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The World of Napoleon III 









The World of Napoleon III 






Published simultaneously in Canada 

All rights reserved no part of this book may be reproduced in any form 
without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer 
who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for 
inclusion in magazine or newspaper. 

First Printing 
Printed in the United States of America 

Permission to quote from copyright works is acknowledged to the follow- 
ing publishers: 

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., for permission to quote from Gersde Mack, 
Gustave Courbet,New York, 1951. Copyright 1951 by Gersde Mack. 

Hamish Hamilton, Ltd., for permission to quote from Francis Steeg- 
muller, The Selected Letters of Gustave Flaubert, London, 1954. Copyright 
1953 by Francis Steegmuller. 

Harper & Brothers, for permission to quote from Robert C. Binkley, 
Realism and Nationalism, New York, 1935; copyright 1935 by Harper & 
Brothers; and Andr6 Maurois, The Life of George Sand, New York, 1953; 
copyright 195* by Andr6 Maurois. 

Librairie Felix Alcan, for permission to quote from Jean Maurain, La 
PoMque eccltsiastique du Second Empire de 1852-1869, Paris, 1930. 

Librairie Hachette, for permission to quote from Marcel Boulenger, Le 
Due de Morny, Prince francais, Paris, 1925; and Victor Duruy, Notes et 
souvenirs, 2 vols., Paris, 1901. 

Librairie Plon, for permission to quote from Pierre Saint Marc, Emile 
OlUvier, Paris, 1950. 

Longpians, Green & Co., for permission to quote from F. A. Simpson, 
The Rise of Louis Napoleon, London, 1909. Copyright 1909 by F. A. Simp- 

Pantheon Books, Inc., for permission to quote from Goldwater and 
Treves, Artists on Art, New York, 1945. Copyright 1945 by Pantheon Books, 

Library of Congress catalog card number: $7-65$; 

A Andre Lobanov-Rostovsky: 
hommage de profond respect 


io, Muse of History, plays deceptive tricks; she often hides 
her most confounding problems under a f agade of flippancy. The 
masquerade ball is a sign of a society which has become in- 
finitely complex, a society which confuses the haut monde with 
the demi-monde, and at the very moment when we most need our 
analytical faculties our attention is captured by d6collet6. 

There was much more than gaietS parisievme in the France of 
1851-1870. The political creed of Bonapartism, born of myth 
and misunderstanding, was practiced for nearly twenty years by 
a doctrinaire if un-Napoleonic Bonaparte. The regime stands 
nearly unique in its evolution from dictatorship to limited mon- 
archy. What is even more remarkable is that this orientation rom j 
Order to Liberty was Bonapartism's raison cT$tre. We are treated' 
to an instance when a party platf orm was honored. 

France has never ceased pulsing from her great Revolution, 
though, admittedly, subsequent developments like industrializa- 
tion retarded the recovery from revolutionary wounds. Every 
postrevolutionary government has been confronted by this phe- 
nomenon, and those who are fond of casting stones at Napo- 
leon HI would do well to reflect upon the success and stability of 
all French regimes after 1815. 

The words liberty and equality were used in the eighteenth 
century to suggest the ideal toward which mankind must strive, 
and the major economic transformation then beginning virtually 
guaranteed that equality would be a word which would raise blood 
pressures as the nineteenth century unfolded. Napoleon HI was 
in the vanguard of those who recognized the new economic facts 
and the political doctrines which they engendered, though he 

viii Preface 

was perhaps unaware that the new economic conditions could 
well affect the vitality and creativity of French culture. Great 
wealth can patronize creativity, or it can stimulate a greed for 
more wealth and power. 

The schisms in the fabric of modern French life for which 
the Revolution was a catalyst are illustrated by a factor char- 
acteristic of the Second Empire: every major faction within the 
nation, as well as the Emperor himself, seems eternally on the 
horns of a dilemma. Nothing is ever resolved to the satisfaction 

of all. "NTfliylftoii TTT ^^yicl^y -f/-\ fo^ liberal an^ modern y**t finds 
he must protect the Papacy which condemns liberalise and mo- 
dernity. The J^epnfr)irflng approve F fg Mjicfyc lifwnpfom, h l1t 
cannot forgive him his support of the Papacy and clerical in- 
terests. The Church wishes to support the Emperor's authoritarian 
rlgime, but cannot tolerate his liberalism. The Army is delighted 
to have a Bonaparte as Emperor, but ignores his suggestions for 
reform which might have markedly improved the Army. 

The crux of the difficulty was the creed of Bonapartism itself: 
the attempt to heal the wounds of the eighteenth century and the 
Revolution by pleasing everybody. But how does one reconcile 
the eighteenth century faith in the natural goodness of man and 
in Reason with the older faith in the necessity of Divine Revela- 
tion and in the notion of original sin? And in nineteenth century 
France, one's political, economic, social, educational, and clerical 
views were usually contingent upon one's faith. Napoleon Ill's 
answer was to offer a program which seemingly offered some 
satisfaction to every party, and to offer himself as a national 
symbol above the factionalism. Even under the Liberal Empire, 
he retained considerable authority to provide a counterweight 
against the likelihood of a badly divided Parliament. 

Not intending this book to be a text, I have abandoned the more 
orthodox chronological approach in favor of a mosaic; here are 
ten vignettes chosen to portray the many facets of the Second 
Empire: The Due de Persigny, the professional Bonapartist, was 
useful as a political hack, but a troublesome ignoramus as an 
ambassador or statesman. Napoleon Ill's half-brother, the Due de 
Morny, was the most glittering ornament on the Empire's facade. 

Preface k 

Beginning as chief architect of the coup <?6tat of 1851, he was 
successively Minister of the Interior, President of the Corps 
16gislatif , and for a few months Ambassador to Russia. A practical 
man (he called his own kind the "considerable people"), Morny 
profited handsomely in his country's service. 

The Empire suffered opposition, not merely in the form of 
republican platitudes shouted from the security of exile, but from 
the braver and wiser who remained at home. The Comte de 
Montalembert, theologian and statesman, was the leading Liberal 
Catholic of the Second Empire. His liberalism made him few 
friends in a period when the Church was well disposed to His 
Majesty's dictatorship. Eniile OUivier was the most critical of 
Napoleon's enemies, since he modified his republicanism to fit 
the promised constitutionalism. Early in 1870, Ollivier emerged as 
leader of the Empire's first responsible cabinet. 

Cologne-born Jacques Off enbach was a cellist who chose to live 
in France. His music was not particularly celebrated for its in- 
tellectual content, which accounts for his popularity during the 
Empire. He caught the spirit of bourgeois taste as a student dur- 
ing the July Monarchy, but his triumphant cancans were saved 
to shake the stages of a less respectable era. Gustave Courbet was 
a realist too, but of another sort. No intellectual, he selected 
mundane subjects which the bourgeois preferred to ignore and 
enraged the academicians with his disdain for tradition. 

The poet Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve is better known as 
a literary critic. His influence was enormous, but his sympathy 
for the Empire put him at odds with many writers of the day, 
a time when few writers were found ignoring politics. The gap 
between society and politics is bridged with the Countess of 
Castiglione. Many men were ready to attest that she was the most 
beautiful woman of the century, but we shall not be concerned 
with any absolute standards of feminine charm in discussing the 
"Divine Countess/' It is more to the point that her supremely 
adequate physical endowments were employed in France on be- 
half of Italian ambition. It might be added that the Countess was 
temperamentally well suited to perform her patriotic role. 
It is not difficult to choose the most able of Napoleon's ministers 

x Preface 

from the mediocre selection which served the Second Empire. 
The historian Victor Duruy rose to imperial favor when His 
Majesty required professional assistance in compiling his History 
of Julius Caesar. Ultimately, Duruy became Minister of Public 
Instruction. His zeal to revitalize public education reopened an 
ancient quarrel with the Church, and when he sought to extend 
education to young girls the sultans of morality quivered in 
anticipation of the end of the world. 

The tenth person to be included, Louis Pasteur, needs the least 
introduction, as his name has become a household word. Chemist 
and humanitarian, he represents the finest tradition of experimental 


The Emperor does not appear as a chapter heading, but in every 
chapter. More often than not, he has been reviled by historians: 
his long career of throne seeking made him appear a fool; the 
Roman expedition and the coup <Ttat of 1851 revealed him a 
tyrant and a skyer of democratic republics; military failure in 
1870 was unpardonable in the eyes of a world which believes in 
its heart that might is right. 

We may view the Second Empire as a laboratory period. The 
men of that time were challenged to redefine liberty in an age 
which had been sorely upset by a great political revolution; they 
were obliged to face the social and economic implications of this 
revolution. To complicate the picture further, industrialization 
did much more than increase the supply of economic goods avail- 
able for consumption. It meant the political ascendancy of the 
"useful people," to recall the Comte de Saint-Simon's parable, 
and the grave possibility that virtue would become a utilitarian 
commodity. Traditional values might either be cast aside as out- 
moded or practiced without understanding. But even as this proc- 
ess was in action, there remained the uncorrupted who either 
practiced or preached integrity. In sum, the Second Empire, con- 
fronted with the moral crisis of modernity, should loudly speak 
of questions still pertinent to our age. 

More important, it was a dazzling, wicked, wonderful, and 
gaslit world. France has not been the same since. 

In the bibliography, I have indicated my obligation to many 



excellent works from which I have gleaned information necessary 
for the synthesis I present. And while I shall add here the names 
of kind colleagues who have encouraged me in this project and 
criticized its various chapters, I cannot begin to thank all those 
whose minds I have probed in the process of the book's creation. 
Specific thanks, however, to Professors Elting E. Morison, John 
M. Blum, and George R. Healy of the Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology; to Dean Jacques Barzun of Columbia University and 
Professor William B, Willcox of the University of Michigan; to 
Professors Stanley J. Idzerda, Ralph Lewis, John A. Garraty, Mar- 
jorie E. Gesner, and Professor and Mrs. Charles C. Cumberland, 
all of Michigan State University; to Mr. Charles D. Lieber of 
Random House; and finally to two members of my family, Mar- 
garet B. Williams and Richmond B. Williams. 

Yellow Springs, Ohio 
December 2, 1956 


Preface vii 
i The Due de Persigny and the Renascence of Bonapart- 

ism i 
n The Due de Morny and the Genesis of Parliamentari- 

anism 39 

ra Montalembert and Liberal Catholicism 65 

iv Jacques Offenbach and Parisian Gaiety 97 

v Sainte-Beuve: Sultan of Literature 117 

vi The Countess of Castiglione 139 

vn Louis Pasteur and the Bacterial Revolution 163 

vm Victor Duruy and Liberal Education 187 

DC Gustave Courbet, Realism, and the Art Wars of the 

Second Empire 229 

x Emile OUivier and the Liberal Empire 259 

Bibliographies 301 

Index 315 

The Due de Persigny 


The absence of a sense of humor is a double 
disaster: those deprived are unconscious of the 
ridiculous and are left unarmed against the 
perversity of their neighbors. 


The Due de Persigny 

.the man who called himself the Vicomte de Persigny, having 
just been dismissed from the French Army in 1831, went to Ger- 
many on family business. Driving through Augsburg one day, 
his coachman suddenly pulled up short, waved his hat, and 
shouted, "Vive Nafotton? at a passing carriage. Persigny had 
only a glimpse of a young man in the carriage, but his coachman 
explained that this was Louis-Napoleon, son of Louis and Hor- 
tense of Holland, nephew of the only Emperor of the French. 
In this casual fashion, Persigny met his career. 

It is fitting that a parvenu dynasty should have found its most 
vociferous support in a parvenu. For whatever the eulogistic 
biographies of Persigny report of his "ancient and noble family," 
he was born Jean-Gilbert-Victor Fialin, son of a tax collector. 
The Fialin family, according to the official legend, came from 
Dauphin6 to Lyonnais early in the seventeenth century, mov- 
ing a second time later in the century to Saint-Germain L'Espi- 
nasse in Forez. By the time of Victor Fialin's birth, January n, 
1808, the Revolution had erased the old provincial names, and 
Saint-Germain L'Espinasse was in the Department of Loire. 

The tax collector sent his son to the College de Limoges, which 
served as Victor's preparation for the Cavalry School at Saumur 
After two years at Saumur (1826-1828), where he was an 
able student, Fialin joined the Fourth Regiment of Hussars as 
sergeant major. In these last years of the Bourbon Monarchy, he 
came under the influence of a Captain Kersausie, who preached 
republicanism, and Fialin became a convinced and outspoken re- 
publican. The Revolution of 1830 overthrew the Bourbons but 
not the crown, and the new government of King Louis-Philippe 
dismissed Fialin from the Army. rr 

If we can believe Persigny's own words, this chance meeting 


in Augsburg was a religious experience for him. His republican- 
ism was suddenly converted to Bonapartism, even though he had 
not spoken one word to the Prince; and, when he returned to 
France, he began an intensive study of First Empire history. "I 
want to be the Empire's Loyola," he wrote, and in the sole issue 
of the Revue de ^Occident franfois he published his faith in 

Persigny's view of the French Revolution and Empire does 
not suggest that his study of history was as intensive as he claimed. 
From his point of view, the French Revolution was bad because 
it had created class struggle; the Empire was good because 
Napoleon had reunited the classes into a single people; after 
Waterloo social war had begun again, and presumably would 
continue until a second coming of the Bonapartes. This conver- 
sion of history into simple arithmetic was accomplished by adding 
up the superficialities and ignoring the complexities of the Revo- 
lutionary Era. 

Seen in a more kindly light, Persigny was a nationalist, a patriot 
who believed that France as a whole could be served by Empire 
and the Bonapartes alone. He regarded political parties as serving 
some class or factional interest and not the interest of France. 
Since there was no Bonapartist party in the 1830*5, he could see 
no reason why all parties should not support Bonapartism (which 
for him was tie nation) while still maintaining their respectability 
and identity. It was again just a matter of arithmetic. 

The publicity Persigny gave these ideas won the attention of 
several Bonapartes. Jerome, former king of Westphalia, then 
living near London, granted Persigny a letter of introduction 
to Louis-Napoleon, who was regarded as the one member of the 
dynasty not to have abandoned the idea of restoration. 

The Bonaparte family was, of course, exiled from France. King 
Louis had moved to Italy, but Queen Hortense, having always 
found him dull, settled at Arenenberg Castle in Switzerland. She 
was solicitous for her son's education, instructing him herself 
when it came to memories of the Empire, and sending him off to 
Augsburg for more orthodox schooling. In this way she was 
responsible for inculcating in Louis-Napoleon a sense of his 

4 The Due de Persigny 

French destiny and for the development of his German accent, 
neither of which he ever lost. 

Returning to Arenenberg from school, Louis-Napoleon re- 
ceived Persigny in 1835. It was the beginning of a collaboration 
that would last nearly thirty years. It is evident, however, that 
the Prince had not awaited his "Loyola" before planning the 
return to Empire. The previous year he had published his Manuel 
tfArtillerie, and he took pains to have it distributed to ranking 
army officers. Historical rather than technical, it was considered 
to have merit; even more, it was a reminder that a Bonaparte pre- 
pared his way with artillery. 

Furthermore, Louis-Napoleon had begun to frequent Baden- 
Baden. He could do this unobtrusively, as Baden-Baden was an 
international resort, but it gave him opportunity to meet officers 
from the French garrison of nearby Strasbourg. He had first 
recruited a Lieutenant Laity of the Engineers; then a more impor- 
tant conquest, Colonel Vaudrey, commanding the Third and 
Fourth Artillery regiments. Attempts to win the garrison's gover- 
nor, General Voirol, failed; the general naturally reported the plot 
to Paris, where Louis-Philippe's government found the matter 
too absurd to notice it. 

Having done this groundwork himself, Louis-Napoleon sent 
Persigny into Strasbourg in October of 1836 to make the final 
preparations. It was Persigny who set the date for the uprising 
on October 30th. In addition to the two artillery regiments, the 
garrison included three regiments of infantry and a battalion of 
engineers. Persigny's idea was for Louis-Napoleon to present him- 
self to the Third Artillery and rally its support. He reasoned that 
the Fourth Artillery would join immediately, as it was Napoleon 
Fs old outfit, and Bonapartist out of sentiment. With all the guns 
and the arsenal, Persigny expected to force the adherence of the 
remaining troops and the town. 

Louis-Napoleon entered Strasbourg two days in advance of 
the scheduled rising and immediately vetoed Persigny's plan. 
Presumably he did not wish to identify himself too closely with 
only one branch of the Army; more important, he insisted on 
avoiding bloodshed and the appearance of military terror. He 


thought it better, therefore, to present himself to the Fourth 
Artillery, which was certain to acclaim him, and then to try 
winning the Forty-sixth Infantry. In any event the new career 
was not to begin with a whiff of grape, whatever the Napoleonic 
tradition; but such scruples gave birth to suggestions of coward- 

Early in the morning on the thirtieth of October, Colonel 
Vaudrey introduced Louis-Napoleon to the Fourth Artillery, and 
he was cheered as anticipated. Then, with the Prince at its head, 
the regiment marched out to test the sentiments of the Forty- 
sixth Infantry. Meanwhile, the governor was arrested, but man- 
aged to escape; it was a bad omen. The townspeople, on the other 
hand, seemed friendly enough, and offered no sign of a zealous 
loyalty to the government. 

When Louis-Napoleon arrived at the Forty-sixth Infantry 
barracks, he found the courtyard too small to bring in his regi- 
ment. There was only room to draw up the infantry in order to 
introduce himself. Thus, he came into the courtyard with only 
a small escort. Infantry officers loyal to the King rallied the 
troops, and it was quickly evident that a fight between the two 
regiments was essential if the coup were to succeed. As Louis- 
Napoleon refused to give the order, Persigny alone tried to get 
the artillery to fire on the infantry, but his was not the magic 
name. The momentum was lost, and with it the cause. The artil- 
lery vanished, and Persigny made his escape. 

After a brief skirmish inside the courtyard, the Prince and his 
suite were arrested, and the affair was finished less than three 
hours after it had begun. The government chose to be lenient, 
and pardoned Louis-Napoleon unconditionally, though he was 
put on a ship bound for America. In so doing, the government 
minimized the rising to a point of ridicule and successfully 
obscured the fact that Louis-Napoleon had received considerable 
popular response in Strasbourg. In fact, a more decisive man 
would have won the day, and the near success was a guarantee 
that a second attempt would be made. 

The Prince spent the spring of 1837 in the United States, and 
then rushed back to Arenenberg to be with his dying mother. A 

5 The Due de Persigny 

small group of loyal adherents, including Persigny, rallied to 
his side, and their presence in Switzerland soon brought protests 
from the French government. The Swiss were disinclined to be 
bullied by Paris, and made no move to expel Louis-Napoleon and 
his friends; but, as French pressure increased, the Prince saw the 
opportunity for a politic gesture. He moved his suite to London 
to save the Swiss further embarrassment, simultaneously making 
himself extremely popular in Switzerland and making the govern- 
ment of Louis-Philippe appear ignoble. 

Much to Persigny's disgust, Louis-Napoleon seemed in no 
hurry to gain the French throne once they had arrived in London. 
He readily fell into the social life of the British aristocracy, and 
the agents of the French government may well be pardoned for 
taking his plotting lightly. His existence appeared to be a series 
of frivolous entertainments. In 1839, for example, Louis-Napoleon 
and Persigny went to Lord Eglinton's castle in Ayrshire for a 
fantastic costume ball. The guests were to participate in a medie- 
val tournament and were, therefore, invited for a good many days 
of preliminary practice before the actual event. 

The best description of this organized folly appears in Disraeli's 
novel Endymion, where Louis-Napoleon is referred to as 
Florestan. If Disraeli is correct, Florestan, garbed in blue dama- 
scened armor inlaid with silver roses and calling himself the 
Knight of the White Rose, commanded more admiration than 
any other knight in the procession. Though a major part of the 
tournament was rained out, it was dear that he was also one of 
the best horsemen. Persigny was cast in a fitting role: squire to 

Some of their moments in England, however, were given over 
to literary projects. Louis-Napoleon worked on a pamphlet en- 
tided Id6es napoteoniennes, in which he presented the Empire as 
the ideal government for France and explained how Empire in 
France meant peace and stability for all Europe. For his part, 
Persigny composed his Lettres de Londres (1840), in which he 
introduced Louis-Napoleon as the man necessary for the restora- 
tion of Empire. His enthusiasm for Louis-Napoleon led him into 
the following description: 


One is not long in perceiving that the Napoleonic type is repro- 
duced with an astonishing fidelity. . . . There are ... the same lines 
and the same inclination of the head, so marked with the Napoleonic 
character that when the Prince turns, it is enough to startle a soldier 
of the Old Guard; . . . and it is impossible not to be struck ... by 
the imposing pride of the Roman profile, the pure and severe I will 
even say solemn lines of which are like the soul of a great destiny. 

In the summer of 1840, having been in Britain over a year and 
a half, the two men finally completed plans for a second attempt 
on the French government. The channel port of Boulogne was 
the target this time, and Persigny had recruited an expedition 
of fifty-six men. The landing was to take place just north of the 
port, and the men were to be dressed in uniforms of the Fortieth 
Infantry, one of the local regiments. Not all the party knew the 
object of the expedition, but an ample store of liquor on board 
was designed to guarantee general enthusiasm and courage. Some- 
one who was devoted to symbolism had tied a live eagle to the 
mainmast; but, having been waved about on a rough sea, the 
wretched creature was anything but imperial. The presence of 
the bird gave rise to a legend that Louis-Napoleon had worn 
bacon in his hat to keep the eagle happy on his shoulder. 

The debarkation took place early in the morning of August 6, 
1840. Despite the local uniforms, some customs officers thought 
the operation odd, and investigated. They were seized; but, be- 
cause Louis-Napoleon had forbidden bloodshed, and because the 
party had no personnel to spare as guards, they were ultimately 
released. The alarm was soon given. Meanwhile, the expedition 
marched to the barracks of the Forty-second Infantry to rally 
its support. They were interrupted there by an energetic and 
loyal officer, Captain Col-Puyg61ier, whom Persigny tried to 
kill. The Prince interfered to prevent violence, and his party 
retreated from the barracks. As they were not pursued, they 
might have escaped to the boats; instead, Louis-Napoleon led 
them into the town in hope of winning popular support. At the 
approach of troops, however, his men scattered, and Persigny 
and he rushed for a boat with several loyal followers. 

Though they reached a small boat, it was in vain. They were 

8 The Due de Persigny 

fired on from shore, Napoleon was slightly wounded, and the 
boat capsized. Made prisoners, they were removed to the fortress 
of Ham on the Somme River to await trial. The government 
could no longer afford to be lenient, and in September Louis- 
Napoleon was brought before the Chamber of Peers. His defense 
was undeniably clever. It was an attempt to win sympathy rather 
than deny the government's case: 

I stand before you representing a principle, a cause, a defeat. The 
principle is the sovereignty of the people; the cause is that of the 
Empire; the defeat, Waterloo. That principle you have recognized, 
that cause you have served, that defeat you would avenge. No, there 
is no difference between you and me. 

He moved the court, but that could not remove the guilt. 
The Peers ordered his return to Ham for the remainder of his 
life, while the other prisoners were given terms ranging from two 
years to transportation for life. 

Persigny was to be interned at Doullens for twenty years; but, 
once there, he became ill and was transferred to a military hos- 
pital at Versailles, where he had relative freedom. When word 
came that the Master at Ham was devoting his leisure to study 
and writing, Persigny could do no less. He had been interested 
in the Egyptian pyramids, and had a notion that they were not 
the funeral monuments which scholars supposed. His thesis was 
implicit in the pamphlet's tide: On the Object and the Permanent 
Use of the Pyramids of Egypt and Nubia Against the Sandy In- 
roads of the Desert. 

Persigny*s official biographer, Delaroa, ever courageous in the 
line of his duties, tells us that Persigny consulted history, ge- 
ography, archaeology, geometry, mechanics, aerostatics, and me- 
teorology; he consulted documents from Herodotus to Cham- 
pollion-Figeac, weighing all assertions and facts; he even devoted 
himself to "lofty considerations" drawn from politics and re- 
ligion. And finally we are informed that, having mustered every 
discipline (there is no mention of common sense), Persigny con- 
cluded with the "moral and mathematical proofs" for his prob- 
lem. This contribution to learning was published in Paris in 1845, 


The following year, Louis-Napoleon made his escape from 
Ham and scurried back to Britain, where Persigny, who had had 
virtual freedom since his illness, hastened to rejoin him. The 
story of Louis-Napoleon's escape how he shaved his beard, 
donned the clothes of a workman named Badinguet, and walked 
unnoticed from the fortress with a board on his shoulder en- 
deared him to the French public at a time when the government 
of King Louis-Philippe was regarded with increasing distaste. 
It was obvious that trouble was brewing in France, and trouble 
could be Louis-Napoleon's and Persigny's opportunity. 


Louis-Philippe's government, often called the July Monarchy, 
dated from die July Revolution of 1830. His r6gime suffered a 
fatal weakness from the start: it could not appeal to any tradi- 
tional principle of French political experience. As a constitutional 
monarchy resting on the suffrage of the well-to-do, the principle 
of legitimate monarchy had been rejected without embracing the 
political democracy of the French Revolution. Compromise is, of 
course, a well understood political mechanism; but, to be prac- 
tical, a compromise must itself rest on a moral basis. Otherwise 
it has the appearance of selfish interest. 

The July Monarchy, unable to accept either legitimacy or 
democracy, took liberalism as its official philosophy, and liber- 
alism in the 1830'$ was defined, in brief, as laissez faire. This gave 
the government a moral basis but, unfortunately, not a basis en- 
tirely free from the taint of selfish interest. France was then 
beginning the economic transformation brought by industrializa- 
tion, a transformation which held the promise of realizing 
equality for all. Such a period of dislocation and aspiration would 
have been trying for any government; but a government whose 
official philosophy seemed designed to confer benefits upon only 
a few in the face of more general expectations was numbering 
its days. 

To the troubles of early industrialism the migration from 
farm to town and the frequent depressions was added the hu- 

io The Due de Persigny 

initiation of a foreign policy which gave the appearance of spine- 
lessness. The program offered by Louis-Napoleon and seconded 
^by Persigny made more sense than laissez faire. It seemed to offer 
peace with glory, liberty with order, and profits with honor. 

Meanwhile, the government met growing criticism intransi- 
gently. Elections were manipulated and patronage was carefully 
managed so that political power became the property of an even 
smaller oligarchy. Criticism grew into demands for electoral 
reform and came from conservatives and radicals alike. A bad 
depression, which began in 1846 and lasted into 1847, further 
embarrassed the government, and when the regime tried to solve 
all problems by simply crushing the reform movement it found 
a revolution on its hands. 

This was the February Revolution of 1848. Sensing the magni- 
tude of the opposition, King Louis-Philippe was not long in 
packing himself off to Britain. Persigny, always impetuous, urged 
Louis-Napoleon to go at once to Paris, but the Prince knew he 
lacked sufficient support in France and preferred to bide his time. 
The Provisional Government, in the meantime, dissolved the July 
Monarchy and thus accomplished the only act on which the 
factions comprising the new government could agree. 

The Radical Republicans, representing the workers of Paris, 
were much influencfed^by" die various socialist doctrines of the 
nineteenth century. They understood liberty and equality to 
be social and economic as well as political. The Moderate Re- 
publicans, while they favored universal suffrage, held liberal 
social and economic views. It was to their advantage to preserve 
the provisional nature of the government in the hope that the 
combined weight of the bourgeois and conservative rural votes 
would eventually swamp the Radicals. Accordingly, the Radicals 
favored the immediate formation of a socialist republic while 
the Parisian mob was still the predominant political force. Such 
a threat was a ghastly nightmare for the propertied classes, and 
accounts for their increasing demand for a government dedicated 
to Order, by which they meant the protection of private prop- 

The Moderates were able to postpone national elections from 


February of 1848 until late April by conceding an important 
point to Louis Blanc, one of the Radical leaders. Blanc believed 
that any government worthy of the name must guarantee every 
man the right to work. Thus, to appease the Radicals, the Provi- 
sional Government established National Workshops in Paris and 
guaranteed work for the unemployed. The Workshops were 
an expedient for all except Blanc: the propertied classes hated 
the principle which underlay their establishment, and too many 
workers regarded them as a republican road to subsidized idle- 
ness. Blanc's humanitarian principle was lost in the struggle of 
selfish interests. 

Elections for a National Assembly were scheduled for April 
23rd, and Louis-Napoleon sent Persigny to France in March to 
discuss with several Bonapartists the advisability of standing for 
election. They decided against his candidacy for the moment. As 
the Moderates had predicted, the country as a whole was alarmed 
at Parisian radicalism and returned an overwhelmingly moderate 
Assembly. As a result, Louis Blanc was dropped from the govern- 

Supplementary elections were held for the National Assembly 
on June 4th, and this time Louis-Napoleon decided to risk his 
name. He was elected by four departments, a clear indication 
that instabflayJiad created an interest fri TWaparfjgrn.-Thft Re- 
publicans were nervous, and when Persigny was seen entering 
France from Britain on June nth the government issued orders 
for his arrest and Louis-Napoleon's, too, should he set foot in 
France. This decree had to be set aside the following day as too 
illogical. Having failed to deny Louis-Napoleon the right of 
candidacy, the government could not deny him the rights of an 
elected member of the Assembly. 

Louis-Napoleon well understood that his name meant security 
and order to many of the French. He would now demonstrate 
that their faith was not misplaced. "Since involuntarily I am the 
excuse for disorder," he wrote the government, "it is with deep 
regret that I place my resignation in your hands." It was his good 
fortune to have made this gesture immediately before the bloody 
insurrection known as the June Days. 


The Due de Persigny 

Ever since the inauguration of the National Workshops, la- 
borers had been streaming into Paris, and the government found 
itself paying an ever increasing horde for whom it could not 
supply productive work Aside from insulting bourgeois virtue, 
this practice was spawning a dangerously large army of potential 
enemies inside Paris. In June the government screwed up its 
courage and made an honest attempt to limit state employment 
to cases of legitimate need. The Workshops were greatly re- 
duced, to the dismay of many workers. The Radical leaders were 
quick to make political capital of the situation, and the working- 
men were urged to risk their lives for principles they did not 
fully understand. 

The Army, under General Cavaignac, fought the mob for 
four frightful days, and at the end a grateful National Assembly 
made Cavaignac the Provisional President of the Republic. Mean- 
while, the Assembly continued work on a republican constitution, 
which was ready in October of 1848. It provided for the election 
of a president by universal suffrage; he would appoint his minis- 
ters, but as a check on executive power ever a French concern 
the ministers were to be responsible to the Assembly. 

The presidential election of December 10, 1848, was a contest 
between four men: General Cavaignac, the darling of the Mod- 
erate Republicans; Ledru-Rollin, representing the Radical Re- 
publicans; Raspail, a Socialist; and Louis-Napoleon, who had no 
party but an unbeatable name. He swept the field. His election, 
and that of the regularly constituted Assembly, revealed a strange 
illogicality: the French elected a Bonaparte as President and re- 
turned a majority of monarchists to a republican Assembly. In 
this way the Second Republic was dealt a mortal blow at birth, 
although it lingered for three more years. ThejaewiAsscmbly, 
comprising- joo OiicuiLLvyDgTlieg^ aud- *wty 25O"Republi- 

cans, was^ bent on reaction. When the Deputies disenfranchised 
30 per cenTSTa^deCIEofate, they made the President the only 
hope of Democracy as well as Order. 

Oddly enough, the new President did not name Persigny as 
one of his ministers; instead, in the kte summer of 1849, Persigny 
was sent on a six-week good-will tour of the German states, in- 


eluding Austria. In the wake of the February Revolution in Paris, 
the German world had been shaken by revolutions, but by the 
time of Persigny*s trip the old r6gimes were once again in the 
saddle. Upon his return, Persigny made a report to De Tocque- 
ville, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, but some of his observations 
were reserved for the President alone. 

According to the dictates of the Napoleonic Legend, Persigny 
was prepared to be more friendly with the Prussians than with 
the Austrians. The Treaties of i8i4-igij.j^hich proscribed the 
Bonapartes t were regarded by them as esseiJoill^^ in 

spirit:^ legitimist, antinationalist, and illiberal. Thus, when in 
Austria, Persigny was not surprised to be rather coldly received 
at first by Prime Minister Schwarzenberg. Later, they had two 
private dinners together, probably because Schwarzenberg 
quickly sensed Persigny's shortcomings as a diplomat and hoped 
to glean information about Louis-Napoleon's future intentions. 

Persigny made it his duty to warn Schwarzenberg that Louis- 
Napoleon would never tolerate snubs like those given to Louis- 
Philippe; he warned against underestimating the vigor of a united 
people standing behind one man, and in particular against under- 
estimating the strength of France. In short, he blustered and 
threatened when there was as yet no occasion. The judgment of 
a French contemporary is fair: that Persigny, although intelli- 
gent, was "an old tomtit who knew nothing of statesmanship." 

Persigny*s attitude changed once he arrived in Prussia. Accord- 
ing to Bonapartist definitions, Prussia was a relatively good power 
because she looked favorably on a unification of die German 
peoples, just as Austria was bad in her obstruction of this am- 
bition. Persigny's report to De Tocqueville must have caused 
some annoyance at the French Foreign Office. He pictured King 
Frederick Tffiffiiflm Ty as illiberal, but as willing to accept liberal- 
ism as an aid to unifying Germany under Prussian rule. This, 
according to Persigny, was the reason the Kong had willingly 
granted a liberal constitution in Prussia. He seemed unaware of 
the actual reason for the constitution that Frederick William 
had granted it during the Revolution of 1848 to save his throne. 

During the revolutionary upheavals in 1848, German liberals, 

J4 The Due de Persigny 

eager for unification, had gathered at Frankfort and offered 
Frederick William the crown of a united Germany. Persigny 
explained the rejection of this offer as the King's unwillingness 
to have anything to do with the trappings of liberal, constitutional 
government, which "inevitably led to republicanism." That the 
King's opinion was in direct contradiction to his earlier judgment 
on the Prussian constitution never seems to have occurred to 

Not mentioned in Persigny's official report was a private con- 
versation he had with the King, who was curious to know 
whether Louis-Napoleon's following had diminished since his 
assumption of the presidency. Assured of the President's continu- 
ing popularity, Frederick William said that he failed to under- 
stand why Louis-Napoleon had been willing to be circumscribed 
by a constitutional republic. Persigny regarded the King's ques- 
tion as legitimate, and replied that he had advised Louis-Napoleon 
against becoming a constitutional president. 

XTniv.KH 1m any hrjafririnn in mggffsring that the form of the 
Fr*m(fli gmrfimmpnt WM temporary: "a matter of opportunity." 
Persigny tells us in his Memoirs that theTrench Foreign Service 
was full of officers hostile to the Bonapartes. Hence it was his 
obligation, when abroad, to reveal the true situation in France 
and to herald the coming of Empire. The Prussians and Austrians 
alike were astonished at his words, which he attributed to the 
enlightenment he was bringing them. Shortly after his return 
from the German tour, Persigny was appointed Minister Plenipo- 
tentiary to Berlin, where he served without particular distinction, 
f Persigny's sympathy for Prussia reflected the Napoleonic 
scheme to create a R^enishl buffer state, between France and an 
enlarged Prussia. This plan/which would have permitted a degree 
of German unification without according to Louis-Napoleon 
jeopardizing French security, was pondered well into the i86o's. 
There was always the precedent of Napoleon Fs Confederation 
of the Rhine, and such precedents, supported by Louis-Napo- 
leon's own written version of the Napoleonic Legend, comprised 
the sacred doctrine for convinced Bonapartists. 
By 1851, the year Louis-Napoleon forced a revision of the 


constitution in his own favor, Persigny's self-esteem had raised 
him from vicomte to comte. Despite this improvement, Louis- 
Napoleon did not see fit to entrust one of the key roles in the 
coup to Persigny, though as an old friend and intriguer he was 
included in the plot and given lesser tasks to perform. 

Once the coup c?6tat had secured the President a ten-year term 
at the Elysee Palace, he turned his attention to properties owned 
by the Orleans family. It was an ancient principle that French 
kings joined their properties with those of the crown, but in 
1830 Louis-Philippe, then Due d'Or!6ans, transferred the bulk 
of his property to his sons a few days before ascending the throne. 
His lawyers argued that the old custom of devolution was no 
longer binding in view of the end of legitimate monarchy, but 
the Duke's haste in transferring the property suggests that he was 
not completely confident of their opinion. 

Thus the matter rested until January of 1852, when Persigny 
urged Louis-Napoleon to rectify this wrong. The Decrees_of 
January 2ind spoke of Louis-Philippe's "fraudulent donation," 
and characterized the seizure of the Orl6ans properties as "restitu- 
tion," not confiscation. Whatever the legality of the matter, the 
propertied classes in France were aghast. They had voted for a 
Bonaparte as a guarantee of order, and this seizure smacked of 
socialism as they defined it. A serious political mistake, the confis- 
cation provoked the resignation of several ministers; and 
Persigny, whose advice had for once been taken, emerged as 
Minister of the Interior. 

Persigny's honest devotion to Bonaparrism, when combined 
with-fft* -fthgfinrfl x* Vmrnnj* which bordered on the sullen, pro- 
duced a minister whose intense seriousness of^j^ose was in 
marked contrast with the mood at court. Moreover, this kck of 
a sense of humor warped his sense of proportion and made him 
blind to the ridiculous. We see him, for example, several months 
after his assumption of office, talking to Count Nieuwerkerke, 
the Superintendent of Museums. He announced his intention to 
take over the Louvre for ministerial uses, to centralize the various 
governmental departments in a great barracks, where the govern- 
ment could sit with all its power. Poor Nieuwerkerke, who 

1 6 The Due de Persigny 

thought that for once Persigny must be joking, forced a smile. 
Advised of this mistake, Nieuwerkerke suggested that it might 
then be necessary to sell the masterpieces in the Louvre, to which 
Persigny replied: 'Why not? The arts amount to little in the 
face of serious political requirements." Small wonder that Viel- 
Castel, Nieuwerkerke's assistant, classified Persigny as "a vulgar 
intriguer, lacking in courage and honesty," and as "pompous and 
spiteful. ... To my mind he is as much like a gentleman as 
chicory is like coffee." 

During 1852 Persigny was haunted by the fear that the Second 
Republic would never evolve into Empire. If he spoke to the 
President in private^ he was always put~^fi^in--a4HMmer which 
suggested that Louis-Napoleon regarded presidential r^Tr as suffi- 
cient. If, as Minister of the Interior, he raised in cabinet meetings 
the problem of what the official attitude should be if cries of 
Vive FEmpfreur were heard during the President's projected tour 
of France, he got nothing but angry argument. Unable to con- 
ceive of anyone less Bonapartist than himself, forgetting that the 
ministers of a republic might regard a discussion of the possibil- 
ity of Empire as lacking in taste or even seditious, Persigny con- 
cluded that the ministers were too preoccupied with self-interest 
to take advantage of "this unique opportunity to set France in 
her rightful track." How had such selfish men come to be minis- 
ters? By default, he tells us; more eminent men had been thrown 
into hostile parties by the turn of events, giving these "upstarts" 
opportunity to achieve fortune. 

Five days before Louis-Napoleon began his tour of the nation 
(September of 1852), Persigny decided to see to it that the "de- 
sired political orientation" would take place. His technique was 
simple; he informed the prefects of the first departments to be 
visited that Bonapartist demonstrations would be favorably re- 
garded by the President, knowing that the remaining prefects 
would emulate these performances in the competition to please 
Paris. Skipping the prefect of Loiret, who was a friend of one of 
the ministers, he summoned the prefects of Cher, Ni&vre, and 
AUier to Paris for secret instructions, which specified, incidentally, 
that Bonapartist cheers be for Napoleon III, not II. 


Persigny suggests that all went as planned, but. 

' - 

hie inin'ntiTTft .tn thi* Hfiirnrrngfrgt-ionff onH wac fnrirmc 

Since the general outburst of Bonapartist enthusiasm which Louis- 
Napoleon met on his trip ended in the transformation of the 
Second Republic into the Second Empire, it is clear that Persigny 
hoped to imply that the Empire was his own work. Yetjt_jsjJifR- 
cult to believe Jthat. Lpjuis-rNapoleon,. after his history of plotting 
in the name of the imperid_.ti:aditiQn,, went off on. a national tour 
in tEe ixinocence which Persigny claimed. In .fact, he openly 
spoke 'oFhls rmplisfari "interrogation," and the question was as 
obvious as the desired response. 

The Second Empire was not an empire by inadvertence. A 
study of Louis-Napoleon reveals certain consistencies, and one 
of them was his refusal to go in directions he had not anticipated. 
Those around him were free to advise, urge, and push, but not 
until painful illness broke his resistance did he succumb to the 
will of others. His guide was a legend and he, alone, the legend's 
heir. Traditional histories have pictured Louis-Napoleon as an 
opportunist whose policies were strangely unrealistic. To regard 
him, however, as a sincere believer in the principles of the Napo- 
leonic Legend, who designed his actions to fit the Legend, gives 
a more faithful portrait of the man. The legend was crystalline 
on one point above all: to be Napoleonic, one must first become 
an emperor. 

Why, then, did Persigny seek to enlarge upon his own part 
in the establishment of Empire? No doubt he had been galled 
by the secondary role he had played in the coup <F6tat of 1851. 
As the longest and most faithful supporter of Louis-Napoleon, 
his ambition was to be the primary inspirer of policy. It must be 
said that money and honors were not his goal, and he had strong 
sentiments about the morals and characters of more selfish men 
in politics. He had no love for non-Bonapartist ministers like 
Thiers and Falloux, and when men like Morny, Bonapartist only 
after 1848, took precedence in the coup <?6tat, he was plainly 

Even so, 1852 was Persigny's year. He became Minister of the 
Interior in January, saw the birth of the Second Empire on 

1 8 The Due de Persigny 

December 2nd, and was named to the Senate on the last day of 
the year. Furthermore, on May 27th, he married Albine-Marie- 
Napol6one-Egl6 Ney de k Moskowa, granddaughter of Marshal 
Ney. No one could ever claim that the Comte de Persigny was 
not devoted to dynastic principles. But, if he brought a splendidly 
Napoleonic name under his roof, he did not marry a reputation 
as lofty as the name. Happily for him, he was too blinded by his 
wife's name to know the extent of her later infidelities, though 
they were common knowledge and offered much amusement to 
the court society. Mme. de Persigny was also known for her love 
of English ways, and behind her back was called Lady Persington. 
She was the mistress of the Due de Gramont-Caderousse, a rou6 
much frowned upon by his prominent family; and her taste for 
embassy clerks, when her husband served as Ambassador to Brit- 
ain, gave rise to the following anecdote: "Mme. de Persigny is 
lost; it is impossible to find her." "Well, have you looked care- 
fully under all the furniture? The tables, buffets, and secretaries?" 


Persigny and his new Emperor received a rude shock early 
in the regime. Europe, understandably, was not pleased to have 
another Bonaparte as Emperor of France, but since his elevation 
to the throne was sanctioned by an overwhelming vote by the 
French no power deemed it prudent to intervene. Some of the 
conservative monarchs even welcomed Napoleon's accession, as 
it marked the end of a Republic, but when he assumed the nu- 
meral III they disapproved. Taking the numeral III instead of II 
was a pretension of legitimacy and recognized the existence of 
the King of Rome, son of Napoleon I, who had never reigned. 
It suggested the illegitimacy of all governments since 1815 and 
was a slap at the powers who had proscribed the Bonapartes in 

Nicholas I of Russia, urged on by the courts of Prussia and 
Austria, greeted Napoleon HI as "Monsieur et ban ami," the 
proper salutation for a President. It was a deliberate snub, and 
no one felt it more keenly than Persigny, who was ready for war 


in case a Sire et bon fr&re was not forthcoming from St. Peters- 
burg. When Napoleon and the other ministers overruled 
Persigny's belligerence, he regarded the affair as further evidence 
that he alone was devoted to Bonapartism and to France. 

In a similar vein, Persigny regarded Napoleon Ill's tastes as 
too simple, and insisted on a court with "conditions of magnifi- 
cence." He did not mean a return to the etiquette of Louis XV, 
but a studied effort to avoid the stingy atmosphere of Louis- 
Philippe. As Louis XVI had had a civil list of nearly twenty-five 
million francs in 1789, Persigny felt that double that figure would 
be satisfactory for Napoleon III. The Council of Ministers, how- 
ever, was so parsimonious as to propose twelve million francs, 
forcing Persigny to alter their proposal to twenty-five million, 
the sum voted by the Senate. 

On June 21,1 854, Persigny temporarily left the imperial service 
and received the following note from His Majesty: 

I regret very much that your health forces you to give me your 
resignation, and I regret no less that you feel unable to accept the 
post of Minister without Portfolio, as this last arrangement would 
not deprive me of the insights and friendly advice of a man who, for 
twenty years, has given me so many demonstrations of his devotion. 

As a token of my personal satisfaction, I name you Grand Officer 
of the Legion of Honor, and I hope that your health will permit you 
to render me new services later. 

On this, I pray God to keep you in His holy care. 


Shortly afterward, on May 28, 1855, Persigny returned to the 
Empire's service, this time as Ambassador to Britain. He replaced 
Walewski, who became Foreign Minister. Napoleon III L waL de- 
termined to make friendship- :adt^ his 

, since, as a good student pf the Napoleonic T .figftnd, 
convinced flffl^ with sftflif rMg " n ****** ftritnii^ faA Iwn 

P?FpiciM fo* *-h ^fiflt flf 

British were naturally hostile to the rise of a new Napoleon, and 
Palmerston had been dismissed as Foreign Minister for approving 
the coi/p <?6tat of 1851 without cabinet approval. 

20 The Due de Persigny 

IronicaDy enough, Palmerston's successor, Lord Malmesbury, 
was one of the few aristocrats sympathetic to Napoleon III. He 
was the youngest member of the cabinet and had not lived during 
the First Empire; but he had known Louis-Napoleon in Britain, 
first meeting him at Eglinton Castle. Friendship with Britain was 
not a hopeless matter, and Walewski had been instructed to im- 
press upon the British the fact that Napoleon III had nothing 
but pacific intentions. Persigny was wont to claim that it was 
he, not Walewski, who discovered a basis for good Anglo-French 
relations, but actually neither of them could prove such a claim. 

Persigny supposed that the First Reform Bill in Britain in 1832 
had given commercial interests predominance in the formation 
of foreign policy. His^formula was thus quite s 


Anglo-French traders the fiaasTfor poHticaTaHTance. His notion 
that the British statesmen of the eighteenth century had slighted 
commercial interests while devoting themselves to the colonial 
rivalry with France must have caused some astonishment in 
Britain, but before his embassy was completed the British were 
to experience a number of surprises from the same source. 

When Persigny went to London in iSiii. Britain and France 
were allied and fighting the Russians in the Crimea. It was an 
alliance of convenience; both powers worried that Russia was 
about to break into the eastern Mediterranean and upset the 
balance of power. But the Russian defeat, accomplished by an 
army three-quarters French, served to enhance Napoleon Hi's 
prestige and, thus, to increase British uneasiness. Even during 
the war, at a time when neither side could achieve a decisive 
action, the British were suspicious of Napoleon. He had wanted 
to go to the front to assume personal command in the hope of 
hastening the war's end, but the British were dead set against 
his going. It was not that they feared his untried generalship, 
but that they feared his victories. The j>xoblemwas to win -the 
war without 

Persigny r was duly informed by the British that Napoleon's de- 
parture for the East would strain the alliance, and this was prob- 
ably the primary consideration which kept His Majesty in Paris. 


In short, despite the Crimean alliance, Anglo-French relations 
were never as harmonious as Napoleon HI would have liked, and 
Persigny's faith in trade was not the key to good relations. Ironi- 
cally, trade increased between the two nations as their political 
estrangement grew. Unfortunately for France, Bonapartism and 
victory combined to give the appearance of great power and 
ambition, an appearance that was greater than reality. When 
Napoleon III said, "The Empire means peace," few believed him. 
Only after 1870, when an isolated France had been quickly 
beaten, was Europe convinced that the balance of power had 
actually shifted. 

In his double desire to maintain the British alliance and to 
keep Persigny employed, we have Napoleon HI reading his new 
Ambassador a lesson in elementary diplomacy: 

My dear Persigny, When one occupies a position like yours, one 
must become imbued with the fact that one is not free to develop 
personal ideas, however good and useful they may be. A minister or 
ambassador can give authority to his words only if it is well under- 
stood that they faithfully echo those of his government. And if, by 
accident, this conviction should become weakened, the words lose 
all influence and political importance. It is thus necessary, when you 
communicate an idea to the British government, that they be con- 
vinced that you are the official and faithful organ of my views and 
intentions. Now in your last communication to the British govern- 
ment, which contained, I admit, some good things which will perhaps 
come to pass sooner or later, you proceeded without really knowing 
whether such is the present determination of my government. . . . 
Receive, my dear Persigny, the assurances of my sincere friendship. 

Persigny and his cohorts regarded this letter as a perfect example 
of Napoleon's coldness, but a better description of it would 
suggest His Majesty's kindness to old friends. 

By his refusaljto cast,oiitJdthfuLa 
Napoleon ITT rr\*dt> himself vulnerable, to the, charge, that helacked 
he could not select talented lieutenants. A 

good many able supporters s of earlier r6gimes, of course, re- 
fused to serve Napoleon HI, but his appointment of some ex- 

22 The Due de Persigny 

tremely capable officials is often overlooked. Historians, like the 
public, often measure a man by his errors rather than by his vir- 

Meanwhile, Persigny's responsibility was to keep the Crimean 
alliance from going to pieces. At the Congress of Paris (1856), 
following the war, Napoleon HI had shown himself too lenient 
toward the Russians for British taste, and he was suspected of 
playing a double game. Some of the postwar problems were not 
settled at the Congress, and remained to trouble the international 
scene (see the chapter on the Due de Morny). An example was 
the R^nioniaiLipifistipn, the solution of which nearly broke the 
Anglo-French alliance. 

The Treaty of Paris had removed the Russian right to protect 
the Christians in the Danubian Principalities, and placed this 
portion of the Turkish Empire under the joint protection of the 
signatory powers. This removal of Russian monopoly which the 
Romanians had enjoyed for thirty years was regarded as a check 
upon ambitions which the Russians might have in the direction 
of Constantinople. The Treaty left the Sultan of Turkey the 
sovereign of the Principalities but granted each one of the 
Principalities Moldavia and Walachia autonomy in domestic 
matters. It was an arrangement satisfactory to none of the parties. 

A majority of the Romanians favored unification of the Princi- 
palities and complete independence from Turkey, and their claims 
soon had the backing of NagQleoiiJQa^yer _ the^champion of 
nation-states. The remaining great powers chose sl3es according 
to self-interest: Turkey, of course, opposed unification as a direct 
territorial loss to her Empire; Britain, anxious to preserve Turkish 
integrity, backed the Turks; so did Austria, always concerned to 
defeat the principle of nation-states. Napoleon gained the support 
of Russia, who smiled on weakening Turkey, and Sardinia and 
Prussia threw in their support, happy to be opposed to Austria 
and themselves having a stake in the nationality issue. 

In compliance with the Treaty of Paris, the Turks held elec- 
tions in the Principalities to choose representatives for the divans 
(legislatures) in Bucharest and Yassy, the two provincial capi- 
tals, but knowing that there was a small group of Moldavians 


who feared the preponderance of Bucharest in a unified state 
the Turks rigged the Moldavian election so as to elect opponents 
of unification to the Yassy divan. This was July of 1857. The 
Turkish trick was so obvious that France, Russia, Prussia, and 
Sardinia demanded the annulment of the elections. Backed by 
Britain and Austria, the Turks said No. 

The British could not see the logic of fighting a war to pre- 
serve the Ottoman Empire, and then turning around the follow- 
ing year and carving an independent state out of that Empire. 
Napoleon III answered that peace and order in Europe depended 
on satisfying national rights of self-determination. Thus he was 
ready to break relations with Turkey, and the Russians, hoping 
such an act would smash the Crimean alliance and pave the way 
for the removal of the 1856 Treaty, agreed to break with Turkey 

Napoleon III, however, valued his British alliance, and he in- 
structed Persigny to tell Lord Clarendon, then Foreign Minister, 
that he would like to visit Queen Victoria. The Queen responded 
by inviting the imperial couple to visit her at Osborne, and it 
was understood that the Walewskis he was still French Foreign 
Minister would be included. At the last moment, the Empress 
Eug6nieyannounced that she would not have Mme. Walewski in 
her suite/f orcing Clarendon to obtain a special royal invitation 
for her. Eug6nie had been rightly informed that Mme. Walewski 
was a current favorite of the Emperor, and was disinclined to 
suffer the humiliation of seeming to sponsor his infidelity. 

This crisis solved, it was possible for Napoleon III to arrive 
at Osborne on the very day that the Russians and he broke re- 
lations with Turkey (August 6, 1857). Franco-British discussions 
immediately got under way, and a compromise was achieved. 
Napoleon promised not to insist on a complete fusion of the 
Principalities, while the British agreed that the elections should 
be annulled. This compromise was actually a French victory, 
since honest elections in the Principalities would mean the ulti- 
mate victory of the Romanian unionists. The British softness 
may be explained by the Sepoy Mutiny, which was causing 
anxiety in London. It was hardly the time to push France into 

24 The Due de Persigny 

Russia's camp. Thus, the Crimean alliance endured the storm, but 
it was shaky and vulnerable to further blows. 

The French were, in particular, sensitive to criticism which 
could be freely published in British newspapers. Perhaps it was 
natural that a government which had the power to silence journal- 
ists at home should expect to hear nothing but kindness from 
the ally's press, whereas in reality a free press, like that in Britain, 
would be by definition hostile to Napoleon's government. Per- 
signy, who regarded himself as something of a liberal and a 
student of British historical experience, was, among the French 
hierarchy, the least inclined to tolerate the idea of a free press. 

Late in 1857, Persigny informed his government that he had 
discovered the secret of the Time's hostility to Napoleon HI: 
it had been bought by the Orleans family. Walewski found the 
report amusing and laughingly showed it to Lord Cowley, who 
duly reported the incident to his government. Lord Clarendon 
replied: "Persigny's cock and bull story about the Times having 
been purchased by the Orl6ans family, ought to be the measure 
of faith to be put in his reports." 

The right of asylum which the British granted to political refu- 
gees was another mysterious and unfriendly practice from the 
French point of view. Napoleon HI, who had profited from this 
generosity and who was not despotic in temperament, understood 
the British tradition; but the majority in his government failed 
to see why the ally across the Channel allowed enemies of His 
Imperial Majesty to live in peace. 

This irritation almost ruptured the alliance in 1858, when 
Qrsmi^ an Italian patriot, made an unsuccessful attempt upon the 
Emperor's life outside the Opera. Many Italians were anxious 
about the unification of their country, having expected speedy 
action after Sardinia's participation in the Crimean War. The 
Sardinian Prime Minister was convinced that Napoleon Ill's co- 
operation was essential for success and was busy securing it (see 
the chapter on the Countess of Castiglione), but Orsini preferred 
to follow the dictum of Schwarzenberg: 'When France catches 
cold, Europe sneezes." He would start a revolution in France by 


assassinating the Emperor in the hope that chaos would develop 
elsewhere as it had in 1848. 

After the attempt on Napoleon's life, the police discovered 
that the plotters had come into France from Britain, and that 
their bombs had been manufactured in Birmingham. An immedi- 
ate and unthinking outcry was raised against the British govern- 
ment, and though Napoleon allowed some intemperate security 
measures at home, he alone was calm when it came to attacking 
the British. When the news of the attempt reached London, Per- 
signy donned court dress and rushed to the Foreign Office. Half- 
drawing his little ceremonial sword, he shouted, "C'ert la guerre!" 
Even if it meant depriving the British of a source of amusement, 
it was now necessary to withdraw Persigny from London, and 
as a gesture of friendship Napoleon replaced Persigny with 
P61issier, the Due de Malakoff, a man whose tide symbolized 
the recent Anglo-French victory. 

It is remarkable that Persigny, having been Minister to Prussia, 
Minister of the Interior, Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor, 
Senator, and Ambassador to Britain, could feel that he was in- 
sufficiently regarded. Humility, indeed, is the possession of those 
who see themselves in a true light. Yet, honors still came to him. 
Lord Cowley, British Ambassador to Paris, tells us of the charm- 
ing way Napoleon chose to confer the Grand Cross of the Legion 
of Honor upon Persigny. It was June, 1857, and time for the 
Prince Imperial's baptism, an auspicious occasion for those en- 
thusiastic for the dynasty's continuance. The Persignys were at 
Saint-Qoud in the morning and were urged to remain for din- 
ner. Since they did not have the proper dinner clothes, the Em- 
press offered Mme. de Persigny a gown, and the Emperor prom- 
ised the Count a coat. The coat arrived with a star on it, and 
when Persigny began to unpin it, as he was only a Grand Officer, 
the Emperor prevented him from doing so. 

Persigny's first term in London lasted from May 28, 1855, to 
March 23, 1858. He was reappointed Ambassador on May 9, 1859, 
when P61issier was needed for military command, and served 
until November 24, 1860. During this second term in London, 

2 $ The Due de Persigny 

Persigny took great interest in Anglo-French negotiations for a 
commercial treaty. Much of the spadework for the treaty was 
done by Richard Cobden and Michel Chevalier, who tactfully 
kept Persigny informed because of his supposed credit with Na- 
poleon III. Chevalier, the French economist, recognized that Per- 
signy was for free trade and in favor of a commercial treaty as a 
support for the sagging Anglo-French alliance. 

out for free trade in principle, 

but at that time he felt that French industry was not yet strong 
enough to compete with British industry. Even so, he regarded 
competition as the right way to build a healthy economy, and 
rejected the protectionist argument which equated economic 
self-sufficiency to national security. By 1859 Persigny gave vigor- 
ous support to Cobden and Chevalier. Napoleon III also wanted 
to reform the tariff system in the hope of lowering the prices 
of consumer goods while increasing their supply, as he was solic- 
itous for the welfare of the people. 

But the Emperor also knew that French business and industry 
were profoundly protectionist, and he dreaded the outraged 
clamor certain to develop in the Corps lgislatif should he employ 
his treaty powers. Thus, he hesitated. Persigny reminded him 
how much this treaty would please the British, and in the end the 
Emperor decided to fly in the face of the very interests which 
supposedly were the regime's chief support. The Cobden-Cheva- 
lier Treaty, which provided for a reduction of duties, was signed 
on January 23, 1860. 

Despite the treaty, Anglo-French relations continued to de- 
teriorate." It was the old problem that always had plagued the 
alliance: thrJRrfrihh feared N^pofcftp's ambit-inn. In this instance, 
it was Napoleon's aid to Sardinia in 1859-1860 in the interest of 
Italian unification which upset them. They favored unification in 
itself, as a check upon France, but disliked French assistance. 

Napoleon III proceeded in the full knowledge of British dis- 
pleasure. His armies defeated Austria in 1859 and provided the 
Sardinians with the province of Lombardy. The following year, 
he sanctioned plebiscites in Parma, Modena, Tuscany, and Ro- 
magna; all voted to join Sardinia. Meanwhile, Garibaldi overran 


Sicily, crossed the straits and took Naples in September. His 
Neapolitan Majesty fled to Rome to find a refuge with Pius IX 
and the protection of French troops, who had been in Rome since 
1849. Napoleon Hi's dilemma was now sharply outlined: he had 
to maintain the Pope in Rome out of consideration for the French 
Catholics; he had to favor Italian nationalism as a Bonapartist 
principle; and the one possible compromise getting the Pope to 
be president of a federation of Italian states was vetoed by 
Pius DC, who, with logic on his side, refused to become a national 

Russia and Austria, with many national minorities within 
their empires, were certainly not friendly to Napoleon's cham- 
pioning of nationalism, and Persigny was making trouble in Lon- 
don. Instead of attempting to reassure the British that France had 
no ulterior motives in assisting the Italians, he adopted a menacing 
attitude. Lord Clarendon wrote to Lord Cowley in Paris, "People 
are very much disgusted as well as tired of him," and Napoleon 
took the hint and extracted Persigny from London a second time. 
In November of 1860, Persigny moved to Paris and assumed the 
Ministry of the Interior. It was to be his last post. 

The government of Sardinia, meanwhile, had the good sense 
to recognize a dangerous situation, and moved to halt the machin- 
ery of unification short of Rome. The Sardinians did move into 
Umbria and the Marches, defeating the Papal forces at Castelfi- 
dardo, and then joined Garibaldi's army; but while despoiling 
the Pope of territory the Sardinians were able to prevent Gari- 
baldi from attacking Rome, and avoided what would have been a 
most embarrassing clash with French arms. Sicily, Naples, 
Umbria, and the Marches all voted to join Sardinia, and thus by 
November of 1860, when Persigny came into the cabinet again, 
only Rome and Austrian Venetia remained in hostile hands. 

The Roman Question had developed into such a boiling issue 
by late 1860 that every ministerial change was watched for a 
sign of the Emperor's intentions. Persigny's appointment to 
Interior was regarded as significant, since he was known to be 
anticlerical and to favor Napoleon's Italian policy. On the other 
hand, Walewski, who had lost the Foreign Ministry in 1859 

2 g The Due de Persigny 

owing to his hostility to the Italian policy, came back into gov- 
ernment as President of the Council of State. He was a leading 
champion of a Franco-Papal accord. Even so, many of the French 
clergy thought that Napoleon HI might be preparing a religious 
schism in the fashion of Henry VIII and were uneasy about the 
presence of the Bourbon King of Naples at the Papal Court. If 
the Pope made too open an alliance with a legitimate^ monarch, a 
Bonaparte emperor might well be goaded to break with Rome. 

Actually, there is no reason to believe that Napoleon III ever 
pondered a schism. He was not an ardent Catholic, but his Span- 
ish Empress was sincerely devout, and, while he was never the 
slave of her opinion as is sometimes suggested, it is unlikely that 
he would have risked the household explosion that a schism would 
have produced. But schism was a phantom in the closet, whose 
possibilities, though unmentioned, haunted the imagination. The 
Vicomte de la Gu6ronnifcre, head of the press and library of the 
Ministry of the Interior, wrote pamphlets suggesting that the Ro- 
man Question was being exploited by political enemies of the 
Empire. He implied that there could be no simultaneous loyalty to 
Paris and Rome. 

These government pamphlets stimulated some equally immod- 
erate editorials from clergymen. Bishop Pie of Poitiers, for ex- 
ample, likened Napoleon III to Pontius Pilate: 

In the summary of Christ's doctrine, "which all Christian lips re- 
cite every day, die abominable name of the man who sent Him to 
death figures. This man marked with the deicide brand, this man 
thus nailed to the pillory of our creed, is neither Herod nor Caiaphas 
nor Judas. . . . This man is Pontius Pilate and this is justice. . . . 
Pilate could have saved Christ, and without Pilate they could not 
have put Christ to death." 

As Bishop Pie sent his message to all French bishops, Persigny 
presented the situation to the Council of State and claimed it was 
a misuse of power, an attack upon the head of the state under the 
mask of religion. Then on March i, 1861, Prince Jerome-Napo- 
leon, the Emperor's cousin and a well known liberal, rose in the 
Senate to call Rome an anachronism and to announce that France 


did not represent reaction but did stand for modernity. Persigny 
telegraphed all the prefects that the Prince's address had been 
"magnificent," suggesting that the opinions were actually those 
of the Emperor. 

Among the ministers, however, Persigny was practically alone 
in approving Italian unification, and it was highly unpopular in 
the Corps llgislatif. When Jules Favre, a Republican, proposed 
the French evacuation of Rome, his measure was defeated 246 to 
5, and the vote was not merely the work of a captive assembly. 
Nor were the Deputies overwhelmingly clerical. They rather 
cynically regarded the Church as a preserver of social order and 
disapproved of any measures which would enhance the possi- 
bility of chaos. 

By 1 86 1 the government had in fact assumed a neutral attitude 
toward Italy and Rome, neutral at least in the eyes of most politi- 
cally conscious Frenchmen, who were favorable to either one 
of the two extreme positions. Napolepn was- still -sympathetic to 
Ttalifln natkma|^Tn 1 hut f ffiH not propo^fi tn dftfipoil the Pnpnry 
any-further. Persigny did circularize die prefects on March 4th, 
inviting them to publicize Article 2 1 of the Code Napol6on, un- 
der which no Frenchman could, except by imperial permission, 
take service abroad without losing his citizenship. The law was 
to be strictly applied to those enlisting in the Papal Army. Other- 
wise, Persigny became more lukewarm for Italy and tried to 
avoid any action which would give the appearance of persecuting 
the Church. Napoleon did maintain his pro-Italian Foreign Minis- 
ter, Thouvenel, until October 15, 1862, but in reality the neutral 
policy was by then well over a year old. 

Most historians have assumed that Napoleon did not push Ital- 
ian claims to Rome out of consideration for the upcoming elec- 
tions of 1863. This thesis has some merit, though it is weakened 
by the general assumption that ThouvenePs dismissal marked the 
change in policy. His dismissal was, incidentally, welcomed in 
France where there was little sympathy for Italy, but the new 
Foreign Minister, the pro-Papal Drouyn de Lhuys, was unable 
to get Napoleon in to drop Persigny from the cabinet. It is odd 
if die Emperor was concerned that the Roman Question might 

30 The Due de Persigny 

seriously affect the elections of 1863 that he should have re- 
tained the anti-Papal Persigny as chief of the ministry which 
prepared the elections. No other minister was as heartily disliked 
by the Catholic party as Persigny, for it was recognized that he 
had opposed Napoleon's decision to adopt a neutral attitude in 

It is not usually noted that Napoleon's activities in Italy were 
conditioned by his relations with Russia. He had begun to court 
Russia in 1856 and had not felt free to proceed with war in 1859 
until he had a secret Russian commitment to smile upon the cam- 
paign. And when, during that campaign, the Russians did nothing 
to retard Prussia's sudden mobilization, Napoleon had hastened 
into armistice. By 1861 Russia was using the Italian situation as 
an excuse for reopening the Eastern Question, blaming the suc- 
cess of liberal ideas in Italy for unrest in the Balkans and for en- 
couraging the Poles. In short, to avoid reopening the Paris settle- 
ment of 1856 for modification, Napoleon III had to put the brakes 
to Italian nationalism in 1861. 

Persigny's unpopularity with the Catholics was only magnified 
by his attitude toward die Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, a 
charitable and religious organization founded in 1833. Its original 
function had been to visit the poor, and though in time the So- 
ciety grew into a large-scale charity organization its impetus 
was always religious zeal. The Society originated in Paris, but 
chapters were later developed in the provinces. Under the Second 
Empire these chapters were vulnerable to the laws which pro- 
hibited combination (associations); recognizing their peril, they 
were careful to do nothing in secret. When Persigny first came 
to Interior in 1852, he remarked that these chapters were hostile 
to the Empire but took no action. Only kter, when the Roman 
Question became acute and Persigny began to regard every 
Catholic as a subversive, did he determine to strike at them. 

The Society had, by 1861, nearly 100,000 members, and it is 
true that it enjoyed rapid expansion under the Second Empire. 
The number of chapters increased from 500 in 1852, to 1,000 in 
1859, to 1,549 in 1 86 1. As its period of greatest growth coincided 
with the sharpening of the Roman Question, it was only natural 


that the government should have been curious. Investigations 
revealed that many of the Society's recent recruits had entered 
for reasons other than the love of charity. In the West, Legiti- 
mists dominated the chapters, and though the rules forbidding 
political action were honored the government suspected that the 
chapters concealed a conspiracy. 

Tackling the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul involved two 
hazards: the Society enjoyed a popular reputation for integrity, 
and the Empress considered herself the guardian angel of chari- 
table and religious affairs. Thus, Persigny began by commending 
the Catholics for their "remarkable zeal in the pursuit of a goal 
that could not be too much applauded." But and this was in his 
circular dated October 18, 1861 he noted the hierarchy of the 
Society's organization, "Such an organization cannot justify its 
claim to be interested solely in charity. . . . Christian charity 
does not need to be organized in the form of secret societies." 
Alone, it would seem, the chapters were fine; in total they merited 
police attention. This information, which went out to all prefects, 
was followed by an order dissolving the Society. In the future, 
charity would be dispensed under tie auspices of the sovereign. 
Her Majesty, in short, would play an increased role. It should not 
be assumed that Eug6nie had encouraged Persigny in this action, 
for in fact the two detested each other to a point precluding 
collaboration. She organized the Society of the Prince Imperial to 
replace that of Saint Vincent de Paul. 

Having provided for charity, the government turned its at- 
tention to the coming elections of 1863, which would renew the 
Corps 16gislatif . Morny, perennial President of the lower cham- 
ber, was a liberal and had been urging the Emperor to modify the 
constitution in the direction of true parliamentary monarchy. 
Changes in this direction had in fact been made (and are consid- 
ered more fully in the chapters on Morny and Ollivier), but 
Persigny was actually authoritarian despite his pretensions of 
liberalism, and bitterly opposed any leftward swing. Furthermore, 
Persigny and Morny despised each other. Morny, who was 
suavity personified, profited well while giving the Empire good 
service. To line one's pockets was, for him, the morality of office, 

32 The Due de Persigny 

and he was revolted by the self-righteous Persigny strutting his 
disinterestedness about court. Poor Persigny, who had little wit, 
was the target of many jibes, and Morny was forever proposing 
him for a post in Kamchatka or some other distant spot. 

In closing the last session of the Corps 16gislatif (May yth) be- 
fore elections, Morny asked the Deputies to remember that a 
government can become blind if there is no contradiction or 
criticism. "Our discussions have strengthened security more 
than a misleading silence would have done. Despite some most 
lively debates, the most extreme opinions have been moderated 
and a bit reconciled." The mission of the Empire, as Morny saw 
it, was to marry the more traditional forms of monarchy to the 
more recent spirit of liberalism. Only then could the government 
expect the enthusiastic adherence of those who, in 1863, still 
styled themselves as Orleanists or Republicans. 

But Persigny, whose task it was to prepare for the elections, 
ignored Morny's appeal for the development of an enlightened 
opposition. He regarded French parties as factions, because they 
were not devoted to the fundamental institutions of the govern- 
ment. Therefore, debate on the conduct of affairs was insincere 
and only masked a more basic hostility to the Empire. His argu- 
ment may have mirrored the situation of the moment, but his 
weakness lay in his inability to envision any means of reconciling 
these factions to Empire. 

Autojsracy for an indefinite p fi n'nd w ^ r fc 1/rgiml ronchrion 
foi?-4?ersigny. He admitted to the prefects that the constitution 
provided for free and universal suffrage, but reminded them of 
their duty to make known which candidates were most worthy 
of government favor. It was the prefect's obligation to see that 
the citizens of his department were not led astray by clever poli- 
ticians. "The government in fact," wrote Persigny, "can only 
support those men who are devoted without any reservation or 
second thought to the imperial dynasty and our institutions." 
Politics, according to Persigny's definition, was the blindly de- 
voted leading the blindly devoted. 

If the press was unfree under the Second Empire, the controls 


were surprisingly less arbitrary than we who are accustomed to 
the greater efficiency of twentieth century autocracies would 
expect. Especially in Paris, newspapers openly supported candi- 
dates unfriendly to the regime, and there was considerable actual 
freedom of the press. There was less freedom in the provincial 
regions, because in many departments the only local paper was 
the prefecture's. Journals were often warned and occasionally 
suspended, sometimes for petty grievances; but an editor who 
could modify his insults and oppose through innuendo might 
publish in confidence and know that his readers understood his 
point of view. Persigny tried to rig the elections, however, less 
through control of the press than through using techniques well 
known to students of dirty politics. He had recourse to official 
candidates, the purchase of votes, and gerrymandering the city 
districts so as to attach fragments of their radical vote to the 

The balloting took place on May 30-31. The earliest returns 
came in from Paris and suggested an astonishing Republican vic- 
tory, but when the provincial totals came in it was clear that the 
Republicans had been swamped outside Paris, They did, however, 
win seventeen seats, a dozen more than in 1857, was geaer- 

olly qflipitt-Ad i4ififr Parxigny'* dMtlfrmaftriqg hfld really rerifftd .a 

protcLJJQtLJnJE!aris. It was significant, too, that many leading 
Orleanists and Legitimists were beaten. Only one Legitimist, 
Berryer, gained a seat. The nonradical protest vote went to men 
who ran as Independents. They represented in particular the 
clerical faction, whose vote normally went to the monarchist 
or Bonapartist parties. The Independents won fourteen seats, 
making the total opposition thirty-two. 

On June list Persigny put out another circular in which he 
congratulated the prefects on the victory; but though the govern- 
ment was safe enough with 250 seats, Persigny was whistling in 
the dark. The Emperor was convinced that his Minister's inept 
management of the elections had not only swollen the Opposi- 
tion's gains, but more important had cost the government in 
prestige and dignity. No one could deny that the proceedings had 

34 The Due de Persigny 

been shabby and unworthy of the government's obvious strength, 
and two days after Persigny's victory bulletin he was removed 
from the Ministry of the Interior, though retained in the Privy 

Even in this moment of annoyance, Napoleon III did not for- 
sake his loyal friend. By letters patent, he raised Persigny to be a 
due, an especially gracious gesture, as it put an end to several 
legal inquiries into Persigny's title of comte. A second decree on 
June 23rd, however, betrayed the significance of Persigny's re- 
tirement. The Emperor created a new post in his ministry, though 
it was not immediately fulfilled: Minister of State, actually a min- 
ister without portfolio who would henceforth serve as a liaison 
between the executive and legislative powers. 

It would be inaccurate to conclude that Persigny owed his fall 
solely to his bungling of the elections of 1863. His service was 
more notable for length than quality; his fixation that he alone 
gave disinterested and devoted service made him quarrelsome 
and given to intemperate words and acts; and Napoleon III may 
well have been weary of his rude friend before 1863. Further- 
more, the trend toward a more parliamentary r6gime had already 
begun, and Persigny was out of step; he refused to believe that 
the French were capable of parliamentary government. Yet, the 
new Ministry of State was a sign of the Chamber's rising impor- 
tance, and in October of 1863 Napoleon nominated Eug&ne 
Rouher to the post. 

Finally, Persigny had a dangerous enemy, the Empress Eug6nie. 
He had opposed her marriage, for which he could not be for- 
given, and he continued to oppose her influence and even her 
presence at meetings of the Privy Council. The many indis- 
cretions of Mme. de Persigny only increased Eugenie's hostility. 
Like many others, Persigny was wont to see the Empress's hand 
in every policy and, in particular, every policy which went sour; 
his bitterness against her flourished out of power. In 1867 he 
wrote the Emperor a memorandum on the Empress's position, 
which quite inadvertently fell under her eyes. He began by ad- 
mitting the greatness of her soul, her courage, and her private 


virtues, but thinly disguised his own views by claiming that the 
public generally regarded her influence in the Council of Minis- 
ters as baneful. He accused her of being more Legitimist than 
Bonapartist (which was true only in the sense of making the 
Bonapartes a new legitimate dynasty), and he claimed that her 
clerical interests had produced the difficulties between Church 
and State. In 1869 he wrote an essay in which he attributed all 
the foreign and domestic troubles of the i86o's to her influence. 
In reading Persigny, one sometimes gets the impression thai 
Eug6nie was the only force at work in nineteenth century Eu- 

Meanwhile, Persigny had returned to his native department, 
Loire, where Napoleon named him prefect. Here he began his 
M&moirs and began to think about the administrative reform of 
the Empire. This project, which he outlined and read to the 
Emperor in 1866, antedated his memorandum on Eug6nie about 
a year. In this document he suggested that the dynasty had suf- 
fered from setbacks in foreign affairs, which the public was 
tempted to attribute to the Emperor's loss of vigor or to his 
mental enfeeblement. Therefore, it was essential to expose the 
true causes of the Empire's difficulties and to provide reforms. 

He did not mention the Empress in this memorandum. Instead, 
he found fhe ^ Emp^yeritmg^mdermined by corruptioa>juid 
tiirggened by parliamentarianism. Responsible government meant 
corruption, H that a loyal majority in the Chambers could be 
secured only through effective use of patronage. An authori- 
tarian regime, which he advocated in place of parliamentary 
monarchy, would give the appearance of honesty and efficiency, 
and would not suffer from "the disorder of ideas." 

Persigny's various memoranda came to nothing, as his authori- 
tarian views were no longer tolerable at the Tuileries. Then, with 
war in 1870, he wrote to the Emperor: 

I appeal to your heart. I ask to be employed in Paris where my de- 
votion can be useful to Your Majesty, or to be permitted to go with 
you to fight in the ranks of your most courageous servants. 

3<S The Due de Persigny 

Receiving no answer, he then begged Napoleon not to leave 
Paris and its "demagogic army," and he urged emergency laws 
to end the freedom of the press and of association. But to no 

With the war lost and the Empire in ruins, Persigny went to 
Britain to avoid possible trouble. Those who were wise after the 
disaster were reviewing Franco-Prussian relations for the purpose 
of identifying scapegoats. Persigny was cited as blind to Prussian 
power and intentions, largely on the strength of his advice to Bis- 
marck in 1864 to keep the Prussian Army in fighting trim. Ad- 
mittedly it was an unfortunate remark, but it is true that Per- 
signy's view of Prussia was in keeping with opinion of his time, 
which regarded Austria as the stronger power. Furthermore, 
Persigny was Minister in Berlin in 1850, when Prussia suffered a 
galling diplomatic defeat at Olmutz through Austrian interven- 

His distress at the turn of events allowed him to believe that 
his personal intervention would have saved Alsace and Lorraine 
and that it was Eug6nie who had prevented his action. In a simi- 
lar vein, he was apt to recall that it was her failure to assist him 
properly which cost him the Parisian vote in 1863. In the mean- 
time he received a delegation from Loire, but rejected their re- 
quest that he stand for die new Assembly of the Government of 
National Defense on the grounds that British parliamentarianism 
"was incompatible with the excitable character" of the country. 

Toward the end of July, 1871, Persigny returned to his retreat 
at Chamarande in Seine-et-Oise. Six months later he suffered a 
cerebral congestion and was sent to Nice to recover. Mme. de 
Persigny had already gone off on a lengthy pleasure trip and 
was finally located in Egypt. Napoleon, then living in Chisle- 
hurst, was also notified; but, being ill himself, he did not promptly 
respond. Persigny's valet and secretary were understandably 
furious when the Duchess postponed her return with flimsy ex- 
cuses and when the letter from Chislehurst, which would have 
given such pleasure, failed to appear. They did not realize, of 
course, the seriousness of Napoleon's illness. 


On January 12, 1872, however he managed to post a letter: 

My dear Persigny, I learn with pain the state of your health. I 
hope that you will be able to triumph over this illness; but while 
awaiting your recovery, I must tell you that I forget what it was which 
divided us in order to remember only the demonstrations of devotion 
that you gave me for many years. Believe in my sincere friendship. 


By cruel coincidence, Persigny died the day Napoleon's letter 
was written; he did not learn that he was gratefully remembered. 


The Due de Morny 


May the reader not be scandalized that 
the frivolous is taken seriously. 


His life lacked austerity. 


40 The Due de Morny 

Ihe constitutional system of the Second Empire did not provide 
for a vice emperor, though several notable personages of the 
period were so classified in usage, if not in fact. One of these was 
Auguste de Morny, whose presence was both a bulwark and an 
embarrassment to the regime, for he was not only capable but 
illegitimate. As the Grand Duchess Marie of Russia once ob- 
served, Morny was "heureux comrne un bfoard" But if connected 
to the Bonapartes by questionable lines, Morny could point with 
some pride to the "dynasty" from which he descended. 

His paternal grandmother was Ad61aide Filleul, born in 1761 to 
Louis XV and Adfele Filleul, a peasant girl from Normandy. 
Adelaide was deposited in a convent, educated, and then married 
off at eighteen to the fifty-seven-year-old Count Alexandre de 
Flahaut. He had been a colonel in the King's Army, then gradu- 
ated to be Superintendent General of the King's Gardens. This 
gave Ad61aYde access to the society of court and salon, where 
she met a refined and handsome young cleric, the Abb6 Maurice 
de Talleyrand-P6rigord. He disguised his clubfoot with high- 
heeled shoes, padded and adorned with large buckles, and man- 
aged to carry on with the ladies in a manner which suggests that 
neither infirmity nor ecclesiastical position weighed heavily 
upon him. In 1785 Mme. de Flahaut, with Talleyrand's coopera- 
tion, presented old Count Flahaut with an heir: Auguste-Charles- 
Joseph de Flahaut. 

The French Revolution caught up with Count de Flahaut in 
1793 and chopped off his head for failure to fill it with the newest 
virtues. The Countess tarried nine years before marrying the 
Marquis Jos6 Maria de Souza, who had for a time been Portu- 
guese Ambassador to France. Meanwhile, she reared her son into 
an elegant, graceful, handsome man, whose superb voice and 


smile became fabled. The young Count entered the army when 
fifteen, two years later became an aide to Murat, and in the best 
Napoleonic tradition was made colonel at twenty-four and briga- 
dier at twenty-eight. 

Historically speaking, General Count de Flahaut's most signifi- 
cant tour of duty was at the court of Holland, where he served as 
aide to King Louis Bonaparte. Here he met the Queen, Hortense 
Beauharnais, who, forced into a dynastic marriage against her 
will, posed as a virtuous and unhappy woman. In truth she was 
merely unhappy; as her uncle-in-kw, Joseph Cardinal Fesch, 
once said, Hortense always became confused when referring to 
the paternity of her children. No doubt she had Flahaut in mind 
when she wrote the hymn Partant four la Syrie, which, as the 
national anthem during the Second Empire, caused her legitimate 
son, the Emperor, many painful thoughts. 

Partant pour k Syrie, Departing for Syria, 

Le jeune et beau Dunois The young and handsome Dunois 

Venait prier Marie Went to pray Mary 

De b6nir ses exploits; To bless his feats; 

"Faites, reine immortelle," "Ordain, immortal Queen," 

Lui dit-il en partant, He said to Her in leaving, 
'Takes, qu'aim6 de k plus belle, "That, loved by the most beautiful, 

Je sois le plus vailknt." I shall be the most valiant." 

The "most beautiful" and the "most valiant" had a child on 
October 21, 1811, Hortense having gone on an extensive trip to 
prepare for the event. The baby was named Auguste-Charles- 
Joseph Demorny; the given names were Flahaut's, while De- 
morny was borrowed from a Prussian officer who was living in 
retirement in Versailles. Litde Auguste was taken to his grand- 
mother, Mme. Flahaut-Souza, while Hortense did her share by 
providing a modest life annuity. She sent additional sums in 1818 
and 1820, signing herself the Countess Henry de Morny of Phila- 

Mme. Souza felt honor-bound to protect Hortense, and never 
revealed to Demorny the identity of either his father or mother, 
but Flahaut called often on his own mother and was thus able to 

42 The Due de Morny 

watch his son develop. He took Demorny abroad in 1829, the 
pretext being a course in German at Aix-la-Chapelle. Hortense 
just happened to be there too, which suggests that Demorny was 
by that time acquainted with his antecedents. Meanwhile Mine. 
Souza was trying to envision a suitable career for Demorny. She 
thought first of agriculture, but this was quickly overborne by 
her own preference for literary gentlemen. She encouraged 
Morny to write letters, madrigals, and epigrams. General Flahaut 
had more practical ideas; he thought his son should be a mathema- 

The Revolution of 1830 returned the tricolor and Talleyrand to 
France. General Flahaut was invited to take a seat in the house 
of Peers and to become a Lieutenant General in Louis-Philippe's 
Army. The following year he was named Ambassador to Berlin. 
Suddenly we find that Demorny had become De Morny, in fact 
Count de Morny. He entered the General Staff School and 
graduated as a Second Lieutenant in 1832, to join the fashionable 
First Regiment of Lancers. 

Raised to a lieutenancy in 1834, Morny was dispatched for 
service in Africa. If we can believe his friend, the Due d'Or!6ans, 
he left many anguished women behind in Paris. General Oudinot 
appointed Morny his orderly officer for the Mascara campaign, a 
risky position in a day when a commander's orders had to be de- 
livered in person. He won a commendation from Lieutenant 
General Due de Montemart, but his bravery was no defense 
against gastritis and dysentery, which annoyed him constantly. 
He got a brief respite at Nevers, but was back in Algeria in 1835, 
and two more campaigns were the limit of his endurance. On the 
campaign to capture the town of Constantine, he was orderly 
officer for General Tr6zel, whose life Morny had the good luck 
to save. The reward was the medal of the Legion of Honor. After 
the subsequent Kabylie campaign (1836), dysentery won the 
day, and Morny resigned his commission. 

Despite General de Flahaut's displeasure over Moray's resigna- 
tion, he tried to arrange a brilliant welcome for his son. The story 
of their relationship was generally known, if not openly discussed, 
but owing to General and Mme. de Flahaut's unpopularity at 


court it was up to Morny to make his own mark Fortunately, 
he had winning qualities: elegant manners, wit, good looks, 
a talent for composing and singing ballads. He was a dandy 
and a participant in le sport. Fortunately, too, social climbing 
was encouraged by the defection of the greatest aristocrats from 
the July Monarchy's official society; they sulked in their exclusive 
salons, feeding their expectations a rarefied diet of epigrams, little 
suspecting that Legitimacy had no future. 

"Mottiy' quickly became an arbiter of fashion: bkck waistcoats 
edged with gold thread were his innovation, and the hat pulled 
down over the eyes was d la Morny. Horses assumed a greater 
role in the social world. Morny, the former cavalryman, was 
attracted to le steeple-chase, recently imported from Britain, and 
soon found himself elected to the Jockey-Club, cercle et societ6 
<T encouragement pour f amelioration des races de chevaux en 
France. As its members had to pass a rigid social inspection, 
Moray's election brought him into a group which included the 
Due d'Or!6ans, the Due de Nemours, the Prince de la Moskova, 
and Lord Henry Seymour. 

The role of jeunesse dor6e requires an income in any age; 
Moray's came from a variety of sources. Hortense had provided 
an annuity much earlier, and no doubt he received something 
upon her death in 1837. General de Flahaut contributed, and he 
received a small sum under Mme. de Flahaut-Souza's will. Finally, 
Morny had the foresight to select a wealthy mistress Mme. 
Charles Le Hon. He had many other affairs, but he was remark- 
ably faithful to this one liaison. 

Countess Le Hon, n6e Mosselmann, was the daughter of a rank- 
ing Belgian banker and the wife of His Belgian Majesty's first 
Ambassador to France. She kept up a discreet correspondence 
with Hortense until the latter's death, became a lioness in French 
society, and made important cash advances to her lover. Presum- 
ably it was her money which enabled Morny to play the stock 
market and to invest in a newspaper. The latter venture was not 
exactly a success. He was induced by one of his Jockey-Club 
friends, the Viscount Alton-Sh6e, to join the staff of the Mes- 
sager, a paper owned by Count Alexandre Walewski, a natural 

44 The Due de Morny 

son of the first Napoleon. Moray's social obligations, however, 
were too pressing to allow a flow of words. He eventually man- 
aged to write one article, a defense of the beet-sugar industry in 
its struggle against West Indian cane. 

Countess Le Hon then encouraged Morny to participate di- 
rectly in the sugar business. She owned land around Clermont- 
Ferrand, and in 1837 Morny purchased a sugar refinery in the 
neighboring town of Bourdon. His success was immediate; not 
only did he prosper, but he won the favor of his fellow entrepre- 
neurs men to whom he was inclined to refer as the "considerable 
people." They responded by electing him president of the beet- 
sugar manufacturers' association. This advancement probably 
encouraged him to run for Parliament in 1842, and no doubt 
contributed to his victory. He showed political skill, too, during 
his campaign, though he was not a great speechmaker. "The 
peasants will be for you?" jibed an opponent; "what have you 
been able to offer them?" "An eclipse on July 10," replied Morny, 
alluding to astronomy; "even two, if I count yours!" This was an 
early example of his trademark: the retort facetious. 

His parliamentary demeanor lacked brilliance. He never spoke 
impromptu but occasionally read from a prepared text, and his 
messages were laden with orthodox Orleanist notions of Law and 
Order. The "considerable people" of Qennont-Ferrand returned 
him again in 1846, but he was beginning to sense the approaching 
collapse of the July Monarchy and had begun to consider the 
possibility of adjusting his principles. Flahaut, then Ambassador 
to Vienna, had been advising the abandonment of the Orleanist 
regime, and Morny considered throwing his weight for Henry V 
and the Legitimists. Ultimately he concealed his hand (the Tal- 
leyrand blood ran true!), and only after the Revolution of 1848 
did he make an effort to meet his half-brother, Louis-Napoleon. 

Before 1848 Morny had had no more than a glimpse of his rela- 
tive, and that was years earlier in London, a chance meeting on 
the street. The half-brothers had never spoken, and apparently 
Morny had remained unmoved by Louis-Napoleon's spectacu- 
larly abortive attempts to seize power at Strasbourg in 1836 and 


Boulogne in 1840. He was very much moved, however, by the 
latter's sudden elevation to the presidency of the Second Republic 
in 1848. 

An interview was arranged by Morny's friend Count F6Iix 
Bacciochi, Louis-Napoleon's cousin, and took place at the Castel- 
lane Mansion. This edifice served as the Bonapartist headquarters, 
though there was virtually no Bonapartist party in France, despite 
the fact that a Bonaparte had been elected President. In the odd- 
est election of the nineteenth century, the Radicals had supported 
Louis-Napoleon, dunking him a Socialist: the Moderate Republi- 
cans, thinking him a Jacobin; the Orleanists, supposing him a 
Liberal; the Catholics, confident he would defend the Faith 
against radical onslaught. Louis-Napoleon seemed bent on pleas- 
ing everybody and on reversing Aesop's law that he who pleases 
everyone pleases no one. And now, in 1849, his half-brother came 
forward, newly elected to the National Assembly, to encourage 
the restoration of Empire. The initial meeting was friendly but 
reserved; that is, there was no mention of their mother Hortense. 
But Morny's advice was repeatedly sought in the subsequent 

Had Louis-Napoleon merely wanted power and position, he 
would have been satisfied with presidential rank, bupa&4*e-was- 
possessed body and soul by die Najgoleomc Legend, the im- 
perial title was clearljTprescribeHTTHe constitution of the Second 
Republic, in limiting the President to one four-year term, served 
to hasten the transformation. When Louis-Napoleon could not 
get sufficient votes in the Assembly to pass an amendment allow- 
ing a second term, the nation should have been forewarned of 
what would follow. Perhaps his demeanor was disarming; he was 
a dreamer, and dreamers are reckoned by the "considerable peo- 
ple" as inept and harmless. 

The coup <ftat of 1851, which lengthened the presidential 
term to ten years and was merely the prelude to Empire, was the 
joint effort of Hortense's sons. The dreamer was supplemented 
by the man of action. Morny was wont to take full credit to him- 

46 The Due de Morny 

I believe I can affirm that there would have been no coup 
without me. I should even dare say that without my participation it 
would not have succeeded as it did. 

But Louis-Napoleon never allowed himself to be pushed in di- 
rections he did not already anticipate, though indeed he often 
needed prodding to execute his own intentions. This was Morny's 

Four other men were included in the plot: General Jacques de 
Saint-Arnaud, who owed his rise to Algerian service and who 
was made Minister of War shortly before the coup; Jean- 
Constant Mocquard, the President's secretary; Victor Fialin, 
Count de Persigny, a faithful Bonapartist and rival of Morny; and 
Qiarlemagne-Emile de Maupas, an ambitious young bureaucrat 
whom Morny detested. We are told that the conspirators set 
and canceled at least three dates for the coup before settling on 
the night of December 1-2, 1851. This is remarkable, as Decem- 
ber 2nd was an auspicious Bonaparte date (Napoleon I conse- 
crated by Pius VII in 1804; Austerlitz in 1805). Was it chance or 

December i, 1851, was a Monday. It was the President's cus- 
tom to hold a reception every Monday evening at the Elys6e 
Palace, and he proceeded as usual, appearing friendly and un- 
disturbed. Morny went to the Op6ra-Comique for a performance 
of Limnander's Bluebeard's Castle and made himself much in 
evidence. During the evening he slipped away to the President's 
private chamber, where the other five had discreetly gathered. 
Louis-Napoleon produced a roll of instructions and decrees, 
neatly packaged and inscribed Rubicon. He read his proclama- 
tion for their edification and distributed instructions to each. 
Morny was to be Minister of the Interior, Maupas Prefect of 
Police, Saint-Arnaud to remain Minister of War, and Mocquard to 
become Chef de cabinet. The meeting broke up before eleven 
o'clock. Louis-Napoleon returned to his drawing-room duties, 
while Morny repaired to the Jockey-dub for a rubber of whist. 

In the execution of the coup d'etat, Morny's direction and 
^ffitiency certainly contributed to success. By dawn the city had 


been placarded with the presidential proclamation, which an- 
nounced the dissolution of the National Assembly, the restoration 
ofLuniversal suffrage, and promised constitutional changes that 
would, among other things, extend the presidential term to ten 
years. Morny arrived at the Interior about seven-fifteen to rout 
the incumbent Minister, Thorigny, out of bed. "Monsieur, you 
have been dismissed. Do pardon me for informing you of it so 
suddenly. It is I who have the honor to succeed you. Please do 
me the favor of removing yourself without losing a minute." 

Meanwhile, Morny selected a group of leading politicians and 
military chiefs for temporary incarceration. The list included 
Adolphe Thiers and Generals Cavaignac and Lamorici&re. Their 
roundup was accomplished with dispatch and delicacy; there was 
no violence, and the rank of the prisoners was carefully observed 
by saluting, bowing officers. During the day of December 2nd, 
about three hundred Deputies, who were unable to take the hint, 
made an attempt to assemble in the Tenth Arrondissement. They 
too were forcibly detained. 

There was still the possibility that the Parisians would rise in 
defense of the Assembly despite their relative lack of leadership. 
The experience of previous revolutions suggested that the pres- 
ence of troops did not necessarily intimidate the mob. Worse, 
troops kept on duty for use against their fellow countrymen 
tended to sympathize with the mob. Moray's strategy was simple: 
keep the soldiers away from the infecting influences of the radical 
leaders; allow them to rest while the opposition coalesced; then 
strike to break the resistance in one blow. Presumably, hunger 
and boredom would already have broken the resistance of many 
by the time the troops charged the barricades. Certainly Moray's 
strategy was designed to be both efficient and humane. 

According to plan, the troops went into action on December 
4th. There were casualties, more than there should have been, 
considering the rather apathetic response the Parisians made to 
parliamentary appeals, but it is hard to limit slaughter when street 
action begins. The records of such events are untrustworthy, and 
casualty figures are really partisan estimates. The Army probably 

48 The Due de Morny 

lost less than thirty killed; the insurgents lost between two and 

f-fire.p hnnrlrerl Trilled. "NJn nne reoretted these Inssec mrirA r^A** 

three hundred killed. No o^j^etgAj3iese^ losses more genii- 

The fighting was over by the evening of the 4th, and everyone 
knew in Paris at least that the President had triumphed. Dis- 
creet inquiries continued to come in from the provinces from 
those whose futures required an enthusiastic adherence to the 
winning side. "They say in my Department," telegraphed an anx- 
ious prefect, "that the Assembly is triumphant all along the line. 
Is it true?" Morny wired back: "On the contrary, the Line is 
triumphant all along the Assembly." 

The new Minister of the Interior's immediate tasks were the 
preparation of new elections and the repression of hostile parties. 
He was temperamentally qualified for the former but too lenient to 
relish the latter. His work was hampered by rancor within the 
Cabinet; Persigny, Maupas, and Achille Fould, the Finance Minis- 
ter, were jealous of Morny, and sought to turn Louis-Napoleon 
against him. Of t^tiiree, IVlorny found Persigny especially try- 
ing, and c^j^der^hinTcrude afld stupid, itjwas a durable en- 
mity; somewhatTater Morny was to remark of Persigny: "He 
has above all else the gift of hindsight; the first view always de- 
feats him." However efficient Morny may have been, and quite 
apart from petty jealousies which sought to ruin him, his station 
commanded delicacy. Louis-Napoleon was entirely devoted to 
the memory of Queen Hortense and did not take kindly to evi- 
dence of her shortcomings. In this regard Morny served as a red 
rag to a bull, and he would have been well advised to be a paragon 
of discretion. Instead, his official dignity moved him to adopt 
arms which were as subtle as a bugle blast: a blooming hortensia 
(hydrangea) with the words Tace sed memento: Be silent, but 
remember. The Parisian wits were not silent, but remembered; 
"Count Hortensia" was the boulevard jest. There were spoken 
indiscretions by Morny as well. 

To the departmental prefects fell the task of selecting parlia- 
mentary candidates worthy of official support, support which in 
1852 virtually guaranteed election. Morny dispatched hints to 
the prefects to guide them in their choices: "When a man has 


made his fortune by work, through industry or agriculture, has 
improved the lot of his workers, has made good use of his wealth, 
he is preferable to what is generally called a politician. He will 
bring a practical sense to the formulation of laws and will second 
the government in its work of pacification and reconstruction." 
As despotism this had a benevolent ring, and Morny's successors 
at Interior would have done well to imitate him. Various indis- 
cretions, however, made his tenure at Interior short, and he found 
it necessary to resign from the Ministry on January 22, 1852. The 
resignation coincided with the imperial decrees confiscating 
Orleans property, and the official pretext for his resignation was 
his protest against this seizure of property belonging to old 

Morny settled back in his parliamentary seat and renewed his 
business and speculative activities. The Emperor was zealous for 
railroad building and industrialization, and the early years of the 
Second Empire in particular were characterized by rapid eco- 
nomic expansion. Speculation became a national game, played by 
rich and poor alike. Since the greatest profits were to be earned 
by companies which received concessions and subsidies from the 
government, it was only natural that speculators sought advance 
information about the government's intentions. As usually hap- 
pens under such circumstances, government officials either sold 
information or made a traffic of their influences. Furthermore, 
they were themselves in a fortunate position to invest. Anyone 
with court connections, including the imperial half-brother, 
was watched or bribed. "Morny est dans Faffaire" was the in- 
vestor's clearest guarantee of handsome earnings. 

The imperial marriage in 1853 was deplored by the Bonapartes 
indeed by most of the court and Morny alone encouraged 
his half-brother in the unpopular alliance with the Spanish noble- 
woman Eugenie de Montijo. The issues were legitimacy and 
jealousy. In the first place, the Bonapartes were not counted 
among the legitimate royal families of Europe. The previous 
year, Napoleon III had not been recognized as an equal by several 
European monarchs upon the inauguration of the Second Em- 
pire. Russia's Nicholas I, for instance, welcomed Napoleon as 

50 The Due de Morny 

"friend" instead of "brother," and Napoleon's conciliatory re- 
sponse about not being able to choose one's relatives merely 
one's friends did not conceal the snub he had received. 

frrtfa4igiir, a royal alliance for Napoleon TOS-dcadgLjiift- 
scrihftd. His Majesty found, however, that there was a shortage 
of royal daughters that year, a shortage enforced, no doubt, out 
of consideration of Marie Louise's fate. His answer to Europe's 
matrimonial blockade, and it was fair revenge, was to marry a 
beautiful woman. It was also in this light that the promotion of 
the illegitimate relatives seemed even more odious to antique 
King Jerome Bonaparte and his children, who now resided in 
Paris. Morny was not the only illegitimate relative in the competi- 
tion; Count Alexandre Walewski, natural son of Napoleon I, was 
an important link in the dynastic hierarchy. Walewski was jeal- 
ous of Morny and insisted on being recognized as the precedent 
bastard. He kept himself clean-shaven (like Napoleon I) as a 
measure of his dynastic rank, while Morny wore an "imperial" 
as a symbol of his relationship. 

By 1854 Napoleon again required skillful assistance. The 
Crimean War had begun, and Georges Haussmann had started 
the modernization of Paris. Both were expensive and unpopular 
projects. From among the clan, the Emperor knew Morny's hand 
to be the steadiest; furthermore, Morny's attitude toward the 
imperial marriage had acted to repair the breach of the previous 
year. The other Bonapartes were bent on preventing his return 
to high office, and his appointment to the presidency of the Corps 
16gislatif enraged Jerome's branch. To forestall it, King Jerome 
had threatened to resign the presidency of the Senate, and Prince 
Jerome-Napoleon instituted inquiries into Napoleon Ill's own 
legitimacy, but the blackmail failed. 

Punch greeted Morny's nomination with a cartoon. He was 
pictured in the presidential chair, saying: "My mother is Queen 
Hortense; my father is Count de Flahaut; Emperor Napoleon III 
is my brother; Princess Louise Poniatowski is my daughter; all 
that is natural." These lines were repeated, modified, and dis- 
torted to suit the teller and the occasion. Morny's own version 
was: "I call my father 'Count,' I call my daughter 'Princess,' and 


I say to my brother 'Majesty'; I bear the tide of Count, and all 
this is most natural." 

The Princess Louise Poniatowski was generally believed to be 
the daughter of Mme. Le Hon and Morny. There was some as- 
tonishment in royal circles when Joseph Poniatowski took the 
illegitimate Louise as his wife. Sophia of Holland inquired of 
Jerome-Napoleon whether this marriage was really a fact. "Old, 
c'est la petite Pologne qui a 6pous la grande BohSme!" The wits 
on both sides of the Channel never wearied of these Bonaparte 
entanglements. After Moray's death, Walewski was nominated 
to the presidency to succeed him, and a new basic epigram was 
coined: "Chassez le naturel, il revient au galop" (What is bred 
in the bone comes out in the flesh). 

Morny was the perfect presiding head for a caprivejegj^ alTirft 
He had 'had a dozen years of parliamentary experience/and was 
closely allied to the executive authority. He was a kind of im- 
perial go-between and owed his success to a double illusion; each 
power believed itself the better served. His competence was ob- 
vious: he knew agriculture, industry, and finance, and was only 
lacking in extemporaneous oratory. Morny turned this disability 
to his own benefit (and the Emperor's) by frowning on high- 
flown speechifying. His own speech was widely copied by aspir- 
ant politicians: informal, hesitating, chatty, long pauses punctu- 
ated by a peculiar hissing sound like escaping steam. When a 
forgetful Deputy launched into a cascade of words, Morny would 
retire into the shell of his presidential chair, and his glacial in- 
difference usually frightened the offending Deputy into ending 

Morny held this post for the remainder of his life, though he 
was briefly absent after the Crimean War in order to serve as 
Ambassador Extraordinary to Russia. Napoleon III was anxious 
to forge a strong bond with Alexander n, because one of his 
Napoleonic ideas was to base the peace and order of Europe on 
an Anglo-Franco-Russian entente. Morny was exceedingly pro- 
Russian, and regarded a Franco-Russian alliance as a bulwark 
against the British and Germanic states, which he distrusted. 
The British in particular recognized Moray's hostility, which 

The Due de Morny 

they returned in kind. They attributed his Russomania to the 
vast opportunities for the investment of foreign capital in Russia, 
and in this regard the British were partly correct. Yet it would 
be unfair to disregard his patriotic dislike of the British and his 
fear of the Germans. In fact, his Anglophobia made him an un- 
faithful exponent of Napoleonic designs, which did not include 
a rupture with Britain. 

The Moray embassy to Russia was monumentally sumptuous. 
More like a court than a suite, the embassy required several pal- 
aces, and its carriages and horses became celebrated for elegance. 
The' Morny arms, in hibernation since 1852, were emblazoned 
on the Ambassador's own carriage. The crest not only included 
a blooming hortensia, but a bunch of lilies and a bend sinister. 
This pompous display and flaunting of bastardy regaled the 
Russians, though it might well have had the opposite result. No 
one had been more pointed in refusing to recognize the Bona- 
partes as equals than the Romanovs, and now, the Russians hav- 
ing suffered a humiliating military defeat, the principle of suc- 
cessful illegitimacy was advertised all over St. Petersburg. But, 
as the Russians were not offended, Morny succeeded in over- 
coming much of the late war's ill-will. A Franco-Russian rap- 
prochement was achieved, though Moray's hopes for an alliance 
were not realized, chiefly because Napoleon III was unwilling to 
scrap his alliance with Britain. 

Moray's second achievement in Russia was the discovery of a 
wife. He fell in love with the blond and young she was not 
half his age Sophie TroubetzkoL Sophie had been brought up 
at court, as her father, Serge Troubetzkoi, had been stripped of 
princely tide and banished to Siberia by the Czar for abducting 
a beautiful woman from her husband's arm. Alexander II con- 
sented to Sophie's marriage, which took place on January 7, 1857. 
For more than twenty years, Mme. Le Hon had been Moray's 
faithful mistress, and the note he sent her from Russia to an- 
nounce the affair's end, "France disapproves our liaison," was 
not calculated to appease her jealous anger. She showed the note 
around Paris to everyone's entertainment, actually went into 
mourning, and received calls of condolence. 


But her grief was apparently limited, for she was soon seeking 
an indemnity, a campaign which smelled faintly of blackmail. 
The actual circumstances are not clear and perhaps never will 
be. It is probable that Morny still owed Mme. Le Hon money 
lent him when he invested in the sugar industry: it is also probable 
that she knew many of his business secrets and was in a position to 
demand liberal settlement. She took her grievance to Eugene 
Rouher, a political proteg6 of Morny's from Puy-de-D6me, who 
held the portfolio of Public Works, Agriculture, and Commerce. 
Rouher gave a decision rather favorable to Mme. Le Hon, for 
which he was never forgiven by Morny. The latter regarded 
himself as betrayed, while Rouher believed himself unjustly 
maligned. In either case, the affair bred a lasting enmity. Probably 
there was wrong on both sides: surely Momy wished to escape 
his obligations to Mme. Le Hon; surely the stolid Rouher was 
scandalized (made jealous?) by Morny's success in the demi- 
monde, and "hell hath no fury. . . ." It should be added that 
Napoleon III paid the bill (nearly three million francs) which 
silenced Mme. Le Hon. 

Morny returned to his presidency of the Cgnps tegislfttif in 
July, 1857, after an eleven-month absence. An unwelcome situa- 
tion faced the Empire that year. The parliamentary elections 
produced a bloc of five Republicans, not dangerously numerous 
to be sure, but an ominous sign in the light of heavily supervised 
electioneering and official candidates. It was soon known that 
Morny was in favor of "liberalizing" the Empire. He believed 
in disarming opponents by granting concessions and favors, but 
since the Republicans assumed the high moral attitudes typical 
of an Opposition it was evident they would accept nothing short 
of constitutional reform. 

liKftrflk Morny, the 

leanist, the man of the "considerable people," "thought of 
liberalism as embodied in lijnit^d Tnonnrrhy, and presumably 
would have made Napoleon III into a latter-day bourgeois king. 
His Majesty often wrote and continually spoke of liberty, but 
he was not the defining sort. Did he mean Democracy? Did he 
mean Order? Did he mean economic prosperity? Or in espousing 

54 The Due de Morny 

the eighteenth century notion that Liberty derived from Order 
(this was explicit in the Napoleonic Legend), did he simply 
mouth his inherited doctrine uncomprehendingly? 

Probably Napoleon III, with his double faith in the Legend and 
his Star, believed himself Liberty incarnate. His assumption of 
tni-flTjvvtyer ^yas the guarantee^of liberty^jind^when it became 
cler~that the nation did not share the Emperor's definition he 
had no constitutional program to replace his beneficent humani- 
tarianism. He really meant to establish liberty, but it was up to 
Morny to lead him toward true parliamentarianism as the logical 
means to inaugurate it. Liberty was a vague principle for Napo- 
leon HI; it was Morny who was the concession maker. Hence 
the famous Decree of November 24, 1860, which permitted par- 
liamentary response to the speech from the throne. 

The reform was at best a mere token, but Morny pursued the 
leftward course. The Italian War of 1859, which Morny opposed, 
had alienated the clerical faction; the obvious strategy was to 
rally liberal opinion to the Empire. Once a protectionist, Morny 
supported freer trade in backing the Cobden-Chevalier treaty 
of 1860. He became more avowedly anticlerical, and courted the 
friendship of Emile Ollivier, a leading Republican Deputy, who 
was attracted by hints of further parliamentary freedoms. The 
liberalizing of labor legislation was another bait to lure Republi- 

Actually, the government was too committed to Order simply 
to emerge as a flaming incarnation of the Goddess of Liberty. 
Napoleon might pardon some typographical workers who had 
struck illegally, but the effect was dimmed by the suspension of 
Ernest Renan's controversial courses at the Coll&ge de France the 
same year (1862) after the publication of his Life of Jesus. Morny 
may have desired to attract the intelligentsia, die artists, the 
writers, and the students, but a government which slapped im- 
morality charges on Flaubert and Baudelaire did not find itself 
suffocated by adulation from this quarter. 

The dilemma was apparent during the Polish Revolt of 1863. 
As the Polish cause was one of the few issues which could arouse 
French Catholics and Liberals alike, it was the government's 


opportunity to unite the nation in common effort and, inciden- 
tally, in the cause of Liberty. Moreover, Napoleon would have 
been serving his principle of nation states. The price was the loss 
of Russian friendship, which neither Napoleon nor Moray 
wanted to pay. In particular, Morny regarded the Franco-Russian 
entente as his responsibility. The only course was to aid the Poles 
by urging the Russians to be reasonable. This produced nothing 
for the Poles, but it did wreck the Franco-Russian understanding. 
Morny's biographers have usually deplored the loss of Russia's 
friendship in 1863, suggesting that Morny's foreign policy would 
have saved the Empire in 1870. Their thesis, however, does not 
take into account the community of Russo-Prussian interests in 
the decade 1860-1870. 

The Polish fiasco was all the more damaging to French prestige 
because it came at a moment when Napoleon HI was deeply 
involved in the Mexican campaign, a project so fantastic that 
one is tempted to suppose it was conceived by an assemblage of 
mental pygmies. Actually, no such synod was convened; the 
Mexican venture was born of skulduggery and disorder, of mis- 
information and bizarre calculation. The name of Morny has 
always been linked with the Mexican affair, though there is dis- 
agreement as to his exact role. 

The story began in 1859, when a Swiss banker, J. B. Jecker, 
lent about 750,000 pesos to die Conservative Mexican government 
of Miguel Miram6n. In exchange, Miram6n gave Jecker bonds 
valued at about 75,000,000 francs. The nature of the loan suggests 
the instability of the Mexican political situation, where the strug- 
gle between the clerical Conservatives and anticlerical Liberals 
kept the country in turmoil. The issues provoked international 
interest in Mexican affairs, and for a number of years, on both 
sides of the Atlantic, there was talk of foreign intervention. The 
Mexican parties sought foreign support; the religious quarrel in 
particular won partisans abroad; and Europeans were nervous 
that chaos in Mexico invited intervention by the United States, 
where an occasional voice suggested a southward expansion to 
turn the entire Western Hemisphere into one mighty (and Prot- 
estant) state. 

56 The Due de Morny 

Jecker found himself bankrupt less than a year after he made 
the loan to Miram6n (1860). Moreover, the political tide had 
shifted in Mexico, where the Liberals were in the ascendant, and 
in 1 86 1 Benito Juirez suspended payments on the Miram6n debts 
to foreign creditors. Britain, France, and Spain were quick to 
organize joint action against the Mexican government; in the 
meantime Jecker sought Moray's aid, urging him to press for 
intervention and to arrange the inclusion of Jecker's claims among 
those of French citizens. If we can believe Jecker, Morny con- 
sented to use his influence in exchange for 30 per cent of what- 
ever Jecker managed to recover. In March, 1862, Jecker was 
naturalized as a French citizen, and his claims soon formed more 
than half of the sum which the French government required 
from Mexico. 

Morny did not have to do much pushing to force the interven- 
tion issue. Napoleon III had long had Utopian visions about de- 
veloping the economy of Nicaragua, and no doubt Mexico would 
have served him just as well. The Empress was an ardent pleader 
for the clerical cause, though it is doubtful that her influence was 
very strong in foreign affairs. She did welcome the Mexican 
clerical leaders to court, where they represented the Mexican 
people as thirsting for Catholic monarchy. These vows were 
substantiated by the French ministers to Mexico, De Gabriac 
and his successor, the Marquis Dubois de Saligny, who served 
clerical interests before those of France. Ir^thiu-^ Mexican 


with a delicacy to wluch.4be4gifierial appetite 
succumb: the issue of self-determination. The 


BritisiTattd- Spanish suofi sensed His Majestrfrgame and with- 
drew from further participation. They, like Morny, were solely 
interested in the financial problem, but not in "reorganizing 
Mexico" nor in creating a new Constantinople in Central Amer- 
ica, with or without the consent of the Mexicans. 

Napoleon's dream of a Central American canal, of a vast com- 
mercial center, of natural resources rich enough to benefit the 
entire world, received a rude shock before Puebla on May 5, 
1862. Juarez's army, setting its face against this invasion of sweet- 


ness and light, repulsed the French. The "honor of the flag," that 
sacred cow of modern nationalism, was thus introduced, and a 
Bonaparte in particular was expected to retaliate with the ap- 
propriate vigor. Retreat became inadmissible at the very moment 
when it became advisable. "We have no partisans here," General 
Lorencez wrote to the Minister of War. "The moderate party 
does not exist; the reactionary party, reduced to nothing, is odi- 
ous. I have not met a single proponent of monarchy." 

And here is the Commandant Mangin writing to General de 
Castellane, July i, 1862: 

The Emperor has been shamefully misled by his Minister, M. de 
Saligny, or by others, on the situation in this country. We are sup- 
porting a cause which neither has, nor can have, any partisans. We 
have in our train men like Almonte and Miranda, who are objects of 
horror in this country. 

And so, on and on toward the conquest of Mexico and the rigged 
plebiscite, which brought the Archduke Maximilian of Austria 
to Mexico City as Emperor in 1864. By this date Napoleon III 
had awakened to the true state of Mexican sentiments, but the 
inevitable evacuation of the French troops was not ordered until 
Prussian victories in Central Europe required it. 

At a moment when the imperial market was bearish, Moray's 
stock was bullish. Shortly after Puebla, Their Majesties went to 
Auvergne, the region most clearly identified with Moray's eco- 
nomic and political career. There, the Emperor raised his half- 
brother to a dukedom and presented him with new arms in silver 
and sable: three blackbirds (from Flahaut's arms) framed with a 
border of imperial eagles and Auvergne dolphins. It was another 
anecdotal blazon, but it pointed a finger at Flahaut, not Hortense. 

The year jtSdjjjieant parliamentary elections. A much greater 
Opposition was returned than in 1857. Instead of Les Cinq, there 
were now thirty-two Opposition deputies, of whom seventeen 
were Republicans. They owed their election in part to Persigny's 
ineffectual and clumsy electioneering on behalf of the govern- 
ment, but Moray was not sorry to see Thiers and other Independ- 
ents in the Chamber. He opened the new session on November 6, 

58 The Due de Morny 

1863: "The people's votes have placed some venerable parliamen- 
tarians among us; for my own record, I must say that I rejoice." 
Presumably die Emperor did not rejoice. 

But what of Morny the man? The nineteenth century historian, 
Jules Michelet, believed that a knowledge of man's bodily habits 
revealed much about his souL Accordingly, he divided the reign 
of Louis XIV into two periods: Avant la fistule and apr&s la 
fistide. We cannot find such a convenient watershed in Moray's 
life, though it is true that his marriage in 1857 changed his mode 
of living. He loved Sophie dearly, and willingly put up with her 

She was a social liability for a man in his station, but he was 
uncomplaining. They resided at the Petit-Bourbon, which had to 
be overheated, owing to Mme. la Russe. She did not like Paris nor 
things French; she thought French women felt and loved 
"smally"; she remarked about the vulgarity of the French court, 
compared it unfavorably to the legitimate court in St. Petersburg, 
and wore a fleur-de-lis emblem to emphasize her sentiments. They 
had a good table, fine wines, were very hospitable, and were pop- 
ular with servants, owing to Moray's attention. Sophie would 
not be bothered being mistress of a great house. She spent many 
hours secluded with a few friends, mostly Russian, and since 
it was known that they had recourse to cigarettes it was rumored 
that they indulged in a multitude of other exotic vices. 

Because Sophifi was fond of rare birds, the house was equipped 
with an aviary. Morny preferred animals; Siamese cats and Pe- 
kingese pups were eternally underfoot, and for a time two bear 
cubs terrorized Moray's guests. He had a particular passion for 
apes and monkeys, and kept them caged in the antechamber 
where business and political associates waited on him. The mon- 
keys greeted the visitors with piercing screams and a frightful 
odor. Morny called them all by the same name, Glais-Bizoin, who 
was a member of the Opposition. 

Visitors called early in the morning, and Morny received them 
either in sky-blue pajamas or in a fur dressing gown, depending 
on the season. The doctors took precedence over all other callers, 
for he had great faith in doctors and medicines, as well as con- 


siderable need of them. His social, commercial, political, and 
official activities were carried on without respite, and he expected 
the physicians to remedy his unending overindulgence. He con- 
sulted quacks as well as reputable physicians, and in this way fell 
victim to Dg-jQHff e, one of the more celebrated rejuvenation 
artists of the nineteenth century. Dr. Oliffe dispensed pills he 
called pearls he is the Dr. Jenkins in Daudet's Le Nabob which 
probably contained arsenic, though not advertised as such. These 
pills gave quick stimulation and a sense of strength; but they 
were drops of death which hastened the end of life while creating 
the illusion of eternal youth. 

Morny was not the sole partaker of Dr. Oliffe's "pearls." They 
were devoured by that small group which equated social enter- 
tainments with civic obligation. To fall dead on a ballroom floor 
was to die in line of duty; as lavish functions provided employ- 
ment for many people, it was a patriotic obligation to attend 
them. This justification of good works accounts in part for the 
constant frivolous activities which characterized the court life of 
the Second Empire and the ready market for "pearls" among the 

Morny also saw his children in the morning. He had four, two 
boys and two girls, and was extraordinarily fond of them. Marie 
was born in 1858, Auguste (the second due) in 1859, Simon- 
Serge in 1861, and Sophie-Denise (Missie) in 1862. 

Morny's marriage was unquestionably happy, but it came too 
late in his life to alter a lifelong addiction to many women. One 
night, for instance, when the court and the artists' world had 
been invited to the Petit-Bourbon for a ball, the Polish wife of a 
young novelist returned to the ballroom with Morny's Grand 
Cross of the Legion of Honor clinging to her bodice. Morny 
could not have planned a more amusing incident for his guests. 

His interest in sexual matters sometimes led him beyond the 
barrier of propriety in conversation. It is reported that at a din- 
ner at Giradin's in 1863, he dominated the talk. His thesis: that 
women have no taste and do not know what is good; they are 
neither gourmets nor libertines, but respond to caprice and 
whims. Remarking that a little debauchery "softened the mores" 

60 The Due de Morny 

of societies, he suggested that tribadism ought to be practiced by 
women because it "refined" them, "perfected" them, and made 
them "accomplished." 

Most portraits of Morny are deceiving, because they picture 
him in court dress or formal attire, posing in the sober role of 
statesmanly selflessness. Behind the dignity of the presidential 
fagade lay the racy, horsy dandy; there was more Brummell than 
Richelieu in him, as he preferred salon and boudoir to official 
chambers. He was an excellent horseman and delighted in steeple- 
chases. Long a member of the Jockey-Club, Morny had been 
associated with French racing practically from its start. 

The first French Derby was run in 1836 at Chantilly, about 
twenty-two miles north of Paris. Until there was direct communi- 
cation by rail (1859), the racing enthusiasts made a short season 
of Chantilly, but swifter transportation made the track accessible 
on a daily basis. Other tracks were built in Paris on the Champs 
de Mars, but they were very inferior to Chantilly. When, in 
1852, Napoleon III began to improve the Bois de Boulogne, 
Morny urged the construction of a hippodrome in the Longchamp 
district. In those days Longchamp was divided between swamp 
and farm, but its location between the Bois and the Seine 
seemed ideal to Morny. He eventually won over the Jockey- 
Club, and in 1856 the government granted a fifty-year lease. The 
tracks were completed the following year and were considered 
excellent It may be added that Morny's horses were not cele- 
brated for their ability to win on these courses! 

If, upon Morny's death, his heart had been opened, they would 
have found there inscribed Deauville. It was "his town." Trouville 
was an earlier seaside resort, which had become increasingly 
popular. By the 1850*8, as the Parisians discovered the salubrious 
sea air, Paris suddenly became quite insupportable in July and 
August. Morny found Trouville too crowded, too commercial, 
and he took an interest in developing a more exclusive resort 
Collaborating with a banker named Donon, they began in 1860 
the construction of villas, streets, hotels, a harbor, a church, gar- 
dens, and a railroad. The tracks were completed in 1864, but 


Morny did not live long enough to see "his town" become a 
Mecca for Europe's "considerable people." 

He had a lifelong liking for painting, though probably he had 
no profound notions about the philosophy of art. When only a 
second lieutentant, he had begun to buy canvases, and he oc- 
casionally bought and sold as his interests changed. He took a 
considerable collection along on his embassy to Russia, and other 
diplomats, probably unfairly, suggested he meant to sell them 
advantageously to the Russians. His taste ran to the seventeenth 
and eighteenth century Dutch masters; he liked Delacroix; and 
though he ordinarily did not care for the Barbizon school, he did 
own a Rousseau and a Diaz. He worried about the genuineness of 
a Metsu, "The Visit to the Accouchement," because of an identi- 
cal canvas in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, but during his 
embassy he became convinced that his own was the original 

Mme. de Souza, in encouraging Morny to be literary, had bent 
the twig farther than she knew and in a direction which might 
not have entranced her. He had a passion for featherweight musi- 
cal comedy and wrote under the name M. de Saint-R6my. Such 
was the man generally regarded, particularly abroad, as Homo 
economicus. But great financiers might sit indefinitely in Moray's 
antechamber, suffering the slings and arrows of those outrageous 
monkeys, while Morny received physicians, pkyed with his 
children, or hummed tunes with his collaborators. The latter were 
men of ability. Ludovic Hatevy, who had been an official in the 
Ministry for Algeria, was given the task of editing the records of 
parliamentary sessions for publications in the Moniteur. He col- 
laborated with Morny in this delicate job and helped with li- 
brettos on the side. Alphonse Daudet was employed by Morny as 
an attacht de cabinet for presumably the same reason. 

Most of Moray's artistic efforts received their first perform- 
ances at his own home or at Princess Mathilde's: Sur la grande 
route (May 31, 1861); Les Sons Cornells (April i, 1862); La 
Manie des proverbes (same date) ; Pas de fumfe sans un peu de feu 
(April 10, 1864); Les Finesses du man (May 14, 1864); La Suc- 
cession Bonnet (June 4, 1864). These works were published by 

62 The Due de Morny 

Michel L6vy in 1865 under the tide, borrowed from Musset, 
Comedies et proverbes. From them it can be clearly seen that M. 
de Saint-R6my was of the "crayon est sur la table' 9 school. 

One work, M . Choufieuri restera chez lui, deserves special men- 
tion as it achieved some success and much notoriety. In fact, it 
has been produced as recently as 1951 in Paris. The premiere was 
September 14, 1861, at the Bouffes Parisiens. St.-R6my wrote the 
original manuscript, with additions and subtractions by Hal6vy, 
and Jacques Offenbach set it to music. A few samples of this 
verse should suffice: here are the words of the opening aria sung 
by Ernestine: 

J'6tais vraiment tres ignorante 
Quand j'ai quitti ma pension 
Mais depuis j'ai su, je m'en vante, 
Fink mon education. 

Je sais que toute fille honnete 

Doit avoir au moins un amant 

Et vite j'ai fait la conquete 

D'un un jeune homme aimable et charmant. 

C'est mon voison Babylas 

Cher Babylas, Hlas 

Pourquoi done ne m'entends-tu pas 

Cher Babylas, Ah! cher Babylas. 

Then we have the second number, a bolero sung by Ernestine 
and Babylas: 

Babylas: Pidro poss&de une guitare 

Une guitare bizarre. 
Bab-Ern: (Four measures of Bing, bing, bing, etc.) 

Ernestine: Qui jusques au fond des families 
S'en va troubler les jeunes filles. 
Bab-Ern: (Four measures of Bing, bing.) 

Babylas: Lorsque sur sa mule 

A travers Madrid circule 
Notre beau Pdro 


Ernestine: Chantant sa musique 

Sur sa guitare magique 
L'effet est complet Ah! 

Bab-Ern: Pedro possede une guitare 
Une guitare bien bizarre 
Une guitare bien bizarre 
(Seven measures of la, la, la, etc.) 

If one remembers the press censorship of the Second Empire, 
it will explain the enthusiasm of some of the critics- Here is 
Alb6ric Second in the Corntdie parisienne: 

How fortunate it is for us poor writers that the author of this de- 
lightful play should be absorbed in higher politics! What would be- 
come of us if he could devote his leisure to theatrical matters? 

But this tribute was followed by a blunt review next day in 
Figaro, written by Henri Rochefort (Comte de Rochefort de 

How fortunate is this author whose participation in a fruitful coup 
d'etat has saved him from the necessity of living by the pen! If one of 
us dared bring such an inept production to a theatrical director, he 
would forthwith have been seized and thrown into the den of the 
theater's old hag ushers, whose instructions would have been to beat 
him to death with footstools. 

Cartier de Villemessant, the publisher of Figaro, was summoned 
at once by Morny. The two had long been friends, and Moray 
wanted an explanation for the attack. Villemessant pleaded that 
he had been absent and had not seen the proofs, but he was un- 
willing to discharge Rochefort. Morny then tried to get ac- 
quainted with Rochefort, but the critic proved elusive. Perhaps 
he disliked Morny too much, or perhaps he feared that he would 
be attracted and compromised by Moray's fabled charm. 

Morny became ill in the first week of March, 1865. There had 
been little forewarning, and since he had been quite active the 
Duchess disputed the doctors when they found his situation 
grave. She went right on with her own plans. Alphonse Daudet 

64 The Due de Morny 

has described in Le Nabab the gathering of the anxious business 
associates and various clients, wringing their hands over the dying 
Duke, though actually grieving for themselves. He was suffering 
from pancreatitis, which the physicians of the day could not treat; 
he also had liver trouble, and influenza further weakened him. 

It fell to his old friend Fernand de Montguyon to reveal the 
truth: "My poor Auguste, you are done for." Morny then gave 
his friend instructions for the destruction of personal papers. 
Bundles of letters were consigned to the fireplace, and when the 
flames did not consume them swiftly enough Montguyon speeded 
the operation by flushing documents down the bathroom drain. 
It was a conspicuous waste of precious records and an example of 
a too frequent practice in French officialdom. 

The imperial couple called on March yth. At first, Morny did 
not recognize them. The Emperor held his hand and was very 
much affected; the Empress was on her knees in prayer. After 
some minutes Morny appeared to realize their presence, and bade 
them farewell. Both of Their Majesties sensed the greatness of 
their impending loss. Morny had not only been an able servant 
and a strong support for the dynasty, but he had been almost 
alone in approving their marriage. 

The end came quickly. Last rites were performed by the Arch- 
bishop of Paris, and the Duke expired early next morning March 
8, 1865. In the chilly stillness, the wail of a beggar's clarinet was 
heard, coming from the Concorde bridge. Morny had hated its 
sound in life; now the tones could mock, but not disturb. 




It means little for a Christian to be right; 
a philosopher often has that advantage. But 
to be right and to suffer the appearance of 
being 'wrong 'while allo'wing him njoho has 
all the 'wrong on his side to triumph that 
is indeed good vanquishing evil. 


66 Montalembert 

Ihe tiny village of Montalembert in the department of Deux- 
Sevres hardly suggests the ancient glory and the fighting qualities 
of the Counts of Montalembert. From the Middle Ages to the 
nineteenth century, the men of this family were born to the 
military profession; but the French Revolution divided the family 
and broke the traditional devotion to arms. One brother, Marc- 
Ren6 de Montalembert, remained in France and was the senior 
member of the Acad6niie des sciences and the dean of French 
generals at the time of his death in 1802. The other brother, Jean, 
emigrated to England in 1792, taking his fifteen-year-old son, 
another Marc-Ren6. Six years later, the latter married Eliza 
Forbes, a descendant of the Scottish Earls of Granard, who had 
been settled in Ireland by Charles II. To this Franco-Scottish 
union Charles-Forbes-Rend de Montalembert was born on April 
15, 1 8 10, in London. 

His early education was directed by his grandfather, James 
Forbes, as the Comte de Montalembert returned to France in 
1814 to serve his friend Louis XVHL Charles remained in England 
until 1819, where he became intensely pious in the company of 
his grandfather. Forbes, though ardently Protestant, was content 
that the child should remain Roman Catholic, and worked to 
strengthen the alien faith in the boy. Meanwhile, the Comte de 
Montalembert, who had been made Minister to Wiirttemberg, 
was anxious for his son to be trained in France, and in 1819 he 
ordered Charles to Paris and entered him at the Lyc6e Bourbon. 
The following year, Charles visited his family in Stuttgart and 
began to study German, but upon the end of die vacation he was 
forced to return to his academic "prison." 

Shortly afterward, the Montalemberts returned from Wiirt- 
temberg and liberated their restive son. He lived at home, read a 


great deal, and attended lectures which were open to the public, 
essentially directing his own education from his tenth to his six- 
teenth year. His Scottish mother was indifferent to intellectual 
matters and failed to understand his devotion to books, but after 
her conversion to Catholicism in 1822 she was at least sympathetic 
to his piety. The Comte devoted himself to the Chamber of Peers 
until 1827 when Charles X named him Minister to Sweden. 

Enrollment in a school was essential, however, if Charles was 
to earn the bachelor's degree, and he entered the College Sainte- 
Barbe in 1826. He found the students, including Victor Duruy, 
inclined to liberalism and hostile to the government of Charles X; 
and, having been favorably impressed by British parliamentary 
institutions, the young Montalembert counted himself a liberal. 
He was shocked, in contrast, to find his fellows indifferent to 
Christianity, many of them not even believing in God. His in- 
terest in Church and Government was excited by student argu- 
ments, and occasionally he attended the debates in the Chamber 
of Peers, which he found were of a "frightening mediocrity." 

Having qualified for the baccalaureate in 1828, Charles was 
summoned by his father to Sweden. He went reluctantly, know- 
ing that his father had little sympathy for liberalism; furthermore, 
considering the family's military tradition, the Comte would 
hardly approve of Charles dedicating his life to "God and His 
Church," which seemed to be his intention. The months in Swe- 
den were none too happy, and were capped by Charles's sister 
being stricken by a fatal illness, which forced a return to France 
in 1829. 

His melancholy became more profound as he approached his 
twentieth birthday. Certain that he wished to work for the faith 
and for liberty, he could not decide between entering the priest- 
hood or politics. He enjoyed little social life, but spent his hours 
reading and attending lectures. The political and religious prob- 
lems of Ireland interested him in particular (1829 was the year of 
Catholic Emancipation), and he was, in fact, on his way to visit 
Britain when the July Revolution began. 

Charles rushed back to Paris, aware that his family was com- 
promised by its support of the Bourbon dynasty. He alone had 

68 Montalembert 

been enthusiastic for a constitutional monarchy and had felt that 
the king was wrong to violate the Charter in the hope of restor- 
ing absolute government. Now the Revolution, in the name of 
constitutional monarchy, had ruined his father's career; and 
Charles's brother, a page to the King, had been forced to escape 
the palace by leaping through a window. Accordingly, Charles 
was not warmly greeted by his family, who packed him off to 
London. He remained enthusiastic for the July Monarchy for 
several months until its anticlerical hue became apparent to him; 
then he thought more kindly of the Bourbons. 

Meanwhile, Charles went from London to visit Ireland. He 
saw the Irish problem as a personal cause: a Catholic people sub- 
ject to despotic rule. During his six weeks in Ireland, he managed 
to meet Daniel O'Connell, the man whose illegal election to 
Parliament had made him a Catholic hero. But O'Connell was 
indifferent to his twenty-year-old French visitor, and Charles 
departed greatly disappointed; "He was only a demagogue, not a 
great orator." His chagrin was dispelled shortly after by the 
news that a Liberal Catholic movement had been organized in 
France. He need labor no longer among the Irish. 

Though the Liberal Catiiolic movement in Fr^cejappsai^iai 
an organized form bffly after the Revolution of 1830, the roots 
of the movement went deep into the history of the Church in 
France. During the sixteenth century, when the authority of 
Rome was at its nadir, the French King secured a large measure 
of autonomy for the Gallican Church in the Concordat of 1516, 
which, in addition, increased the royal interference in hierarchi- 
cal affairs. In tying Church and State more closely, the Concordat 
of 1516 had the ultimate effect of subjecting the Church to royal 
authority, clearly a retreat from the traditional medieval view 
that religious and secular authority ought to be separate. Never- 
theless, the French bishops were pleased to be given greater au- 
thority in their dioceses and were, therefore, jealous of their 
"Gallican liberties"; similarly, the royal politicians, eager to 
strengthen royal authority, were happy to eliminate Papal in- 
fluence within the kingdom. 

In the eighteenth century when the authority and prestige of 


the French monarchy declined, the Galilean Church suffered be- 
cause of its alliance with the decaying regime. Accordingly, the 
governments of the French Revolution dealt harshly with the 
Church, which had to count itself fortunate in 1801 to have its 
status recognized again, though by a humiliating Concordat. The 
French bishops received, it is true, an even greater authority in 
their dioceses, but the clergy really became civil servants, so great 
was the jurisdiction of the government over them; and Papal 
authority in France was more limited than it had been after 1516. 

The subjection of clerical authority to the State was accom- 
panied, in particular in the eighteenth and early nineteenth cen- 
turies, by the triumph of Rationalism over traditional Christian- 
ity. This will explain why those who wished to revitalize Chris- 
tianity in France saw the problem as twofold: they had to defeat 
"Voltairianism" while reviving ultramontanism. Comte Joseph de 
Maistre initiated the revival of ultramontanism in France, argu- 
ing that the decline of Christianity during the eighteenth century 
was a result of Gallicanism. 

After De Maistre's death in 1821, the Abb6 Felicit6 de La 
Mennais became the leading ultramontanist. As early as 1814 La 
Mennais had written against Gallicanism in terms which sug- 
gested a medieval ideal: 

Without the Pope, no Church; without the Church, no Christianity; 
without Christianity, no religion or society: thus European national 
life has its unique source in pontifical power. 

If Gallicanism was seriously hurt by the collapse of the Old 
R6gime during the French Revolution, the second failure of the 
Bourbon monarchy in 1830 proved fatal to Gallicanism. The Rev- 
olution of 1830 was antilegitimist and anticlerical; in fact, jhere 
wgs talk among the Jbourgeois that the Church was finished in 
jFrance because she had tied ^Jfe'CT^'t^^^^jTto LegitiinacyT 
While the constitution recognized Cafhoiicism as "the reEgion 
of the majority of the French,'* the Church was disestablished, 
and the coronation of Louis-Philippe was not a religious cere- 
mony. Many of the clergy went into hiding to escape possible 
persecution; and a number of the bishops emigrated, still jealous 

70 Montalembert 

of their "Galilean liberties," but recognizing that those liberties 
were unlikely to be supported by an anticlerical government. 

The^Revqlution of 1830, therefore, served notice on French 
Catholics that : they must reach a modus vivendi with modernity 
or risk extinction of the faith. The Gallicans were paraTyzecrby 
defeat and fear, but the ultramontanes unattached to any one 
form of government argued that a Catholic revival was de- 
pendent upon the French clergy accepting the principle of sepa- 
ration of Church and State. The ultramontanes, in short, saw that 
the medieval ideal of separation of Church and State was com- 
patible with the nineteenth century liberal ideal of laissez faire. 
JThejGdlicans complained that a liberal program implied Jthe ac- 
ceptance of infidel governments, to which the ultramontanes re- 
plied that an indifference to form of government was, the. proper 
attitude and that the independence of the Church should be the 
goal. ~ ~ fc 

In October of 1830, three of the ultramontanes, styling them- 
selves Liberal Catholics, founded the journal UAvenir, which 
was dedicated to "God and Liberty." The following month, 
Montalembert left Ireland to join these three: La Mennais, La- 
cordaire, and De Coux. "All that I know," he wrote to La 
Mennais in advance, "all that I am, I put at your feet." The policy 
of UAvenir was basically liberal but had democratic aspects dis- 
tasteful to Montalembert; nevertheless, he stood with the three 
founders for separation of Church and State, freedom of teaching, 
freedom of the press, freedom for associations, and for universal 
suffrage. They proposed to support the July Monarchy on con- 
dition that the government remain faithful to the spirit of the 
constitution and maintain religious freedom. 

The social and economic policy of UAvenir was more demo- 
cratic than liberal, and bore the imprint of La Mennais's thought: 

The question of the poor is not simply a question of economic 
policy; it is a question of the life and death of society, because it is a 
question of life or death for five-sixths of the human race; hence, more 
than ever one of the problems which call for a prompt solution in 


Charity in the form of alms was insufficient; the Church must be- 
come the champion for social justice. Economists like Adam 
Smith and Simonde de Sismondi were regularly attacked for 
classifying only material things as wealth and forgetting the moral 
virtues, and for being solicitous for production of goods but 
indifferent to their distribution. Economics is, according to De 
Coux, "the theology of material interests," and he found it out- 
rageous that these economists, whom he characterized as in- 
different to human values, believed that Catholicism was the 
enemy of the people's well-being. The Church, he concluded, 
must stand ready to remedy the ills brought by the "selfish in- 
terest of the capitalists" and prevent society from suffering a 
terrible disaster. 

In defiance of the laws which gave the state monopolistic 
control of education, the editors of UAvenir opened a primary 
school in 1831, hoping to force the government to accept the 
principle of freedom of teaching. The regime was, of course, 
too anticlerical to champion legislation permitting the clergy to 
open primary schools, and the editors soon found themselves 
under arrest. Death spared the old Comte de Montalembert the 
spectacle of his son in court; and the latter, having paid his hun- 
dred-franc fine, left the hearing as a Peer of France. 

UAvenir had over two thousand subscribers by 1831, the ma- 
jority being young clergymen. Their acceptance of the liberal 
principle of separation of Church and State alarmed some of the 
older clerical proponents of Legitimacy for whom such separa- 
tion meant the loss of the budget annually provided the Church 
by the State. Subscriptions to the journal declined when Cardinal 
de Rohan and the Bishops of Chartres and Toulouse forbade the 
reading of UAvenir in their dioceses. Fearing for the life of the 
journal, its editors decided to appeal to Rome for support. They 
expected a sympathetic reception, as their editorials had been 
outspokenly ultramontane. 

Off to Rome, then, went La Mennais, Montalembert, and 
Lacordaire. But Gregory XVI, who had just ascended the Papal 
throne in the midst of revolt in the Papal States, had little sym- 

72 Montalembert 

pathy for liberal ideas; and even had he been sympathetic, it 
would have been awkward for him to undercut the French hier- 
archy which had already made known its hostility to liberalism. 
In consequence, the editorial trio was coldly received and ulti- 
mately told to return to France while the liberal program was 
being studied. A second audience was granted them on March i, 
1832, but the presence of Cardinal de Rohan indicated defeat 
before the Pope had spoken a word. 

An embittered La Mennais, accompanied by Montalembert, 
left Rome for Munich, where they met the leaders of the Bavarian 
Liberal Catholic movement. The Papal encyclical Mirari vos 
reached them in Munich; they were not mentioned by name, but 
their ideas were condemned without right of appeal. The editors 
of L'Avenir accepted the condemnation officially, and Lacordaire 
resigned from the journal; but La Mennais and Montalembert 
continued to harbor their liberal convictions, which they re- 
frained from publishing. 

In his encyclical, Gregory XVI had not criticized La Mennais's 
ultramontanism, but merely his liberalism. In short, Gallicanism 
was no longer a serious issue dividing the French clergy, which 
was sharply divided now over liberalism. For conservatives like 
Gregory XVI, liberalism was compromised by its eighteenth 
century philosophical origins. The notion that the natural good- 
ness of man would become apparent in a free society seemed in* 
compatible with the idea of Original Sin. The Liberal Catholics 
had never denied Original Sin and, from the Conservative point 
of view, were illogical in espousing a freer society which would 
"unleash the popular passions." Spiritual life requires authority, 
the Conservatives reasoned, not license. 

Furthermore, the Liberals might speak of separating Church 
and State, of separating the spiritual from the temporal, but the 
Conservative Catholics did not admit that the two realms were 
so clearly separate. Religion and politics were enmeshed, they 
argued, and properly so when it came to such matters as public 
education and marriage. In consequence, the Conservatives be- 
lieved that the Liberal program to revitalize religion by separating 
Church and State would have the opposite effect: the Church 


would simply be surrendering its rightful interest to politicians. 
Gregory XVFs decision not to encourage the Poles, who, in 
1831, had combined the causes of liberalism and Catholicism in 
a revolt against Russian rule, demonstrated the Papacy's belief 
in Order. The Polish cause was popular in France, however, and 
served to strengthen the Liberal Catholic movement. Mickiewicz's 
Book of the Polish Pilgrims was translated into French by Mon- 
talembert, who added his own preface and a Hymn to Poland by 
La Mennais in the 1833 edition. Following, La Mennais published 
his Sentiments of a Believer, an attack upon civil authority, which 
was censured in the encyclical Singulari nos in 1834. From this 
second condemnation, La Mennais never recovered; he lost faith 
in Rome while retaining his faith in Catholic doctrine. He was 
never excommunicated, but his career in the Church shortly 
came to an end, after which he wrote his name Lamennais. 

Montalembert, meanwhile, had been unable to decide whether 
to enter the priesthood. He decided against it in 1836 after meet- 
ing Marie-Anne de M6rode, whom he married in September of 
that year. The M6rodes were Franco-Belgian nobility, and known 
for their piety and devotion to the Papacy. Four daughters were 
born to this happy marriage: Elisabeth, Catherine, Madeleine, 
and G6n6reuse-Thrse, and their education became one of Mon- 
talembert's major occupations. 

Education, in fact, became the chief Liberal Catholic concern 
after Lamennais's sad fate had suggested the inexpediency of 
dwelling on the issue of Church-State separation. In his The 
Obligation of Catholics in the Matter of Freedom of Teaching 
(1843), Montalembert urged all Catholics to demand that the 
government recognize the principle of freedom of teaching on 
grounds that the Constitution guaranteed liberty. The Liberal 
Catholics initiated this campaign, but the cause was agreeable 
to the Conservative Catholics; if the government had previously 
refused to permit the establishment of parochial primary schools, 
perhaps the government's own creed of laissez faire could be in- 
voked by the Catholics to secure for clergymen the right to open 
parochial primary schools. 
Montalembert advocated the use of political action toward 

74 Montalembert 

this goal, but many of the bishops reared in the Gallican tra- 
dition of merely suggesting opinions to the government in the 
expectation of action were aghast at the prospect of political 
organization. His support, therefore, came from the younger 
clergy, who, disillusioned by the Church's disastrous alliance 
with Legitimacy, were ready to see a Catholic Party formed. 
Beginning in 1844, Montalembert's Committee for the Defense 
of Religious Freedom organized affiliated chapters throughout 
the country. Members of the organization did not themselves 
seek parliamentary office, but candidates who agreed to champion 
the principle of freedom of teaching received the organization's 
support. In the election of 1846, one hundred and forty-six such 
candidates were elected to Parliament. This success, when added 
to the election of a liberal Pope the same year, augured well for 
Liberal Catholicism. 

The Catholics were not embarrassed by revolution in 1848 as 
they had been in 1830, for they had no stake in the anticlerical 
July Monarchy, and Pius IX did not revere Order to the point 
of denying the right to rebel. In general, then, the clergy was 
favorable to the Revolution of 1848 and was spared the anti- 
clerical reaction of 1830. Thus, one can affirm that the Catholics 
had won a round in their fight to reach a modus vivendi with 
modernity; the bishops were not overly enthusiastic about re- 
publican government, it is true, but neither did they feel obliged 
to emigrate in fear of persecution. 

The Church had yet to face, however, another aspect of 
modernity: the harsh economic and social facts of the Industrial 
Revolution. Principally, of course, the Church has always been 
concerned with the salvation of souls, though the number of 
Catholic charitable organizations in the nineteenth century dem- 
onstrated that Christians were not indifferent to misery on this 

The Industrial Revolution was a serious challenge to the 
Church because it held the promise of material progress for all 
mankind. There were many who held that the coming material 
benefits would be the measure of true progress and that Christi- 
anity would perish in competition with the newer and more 


apparent key to salvation. Their argument was based on the 
assumption that human nature would improve in response to an 
improved environment; thus, the happy day would come when 
rich men would slip effortlessly through the needle's eye. 

In its early days, however, industrialism seemed to produce 
profits for the few and, if anything, cultivated misery by con- 
centrating the poor into squalid towns. Lamennais had earlier 
suggested that die Catholic obligation was to work for political 
and economic freedom. Salvation was not possible without free- 
dom; crushing people politically or economically makes them 
brutes, not men. In this way the Liberal Catholics glimpsed a 
Christian argument for social reform without coming to terms 
with the materialism of their opponents. Freedom did not neces- 
sarily mean democracy, and certainly Montalembert did not 
understand freedom to mean democracy. Socialism, as economic 
democracy, became an anathema to most of the Catholic leaders 
whether Liberal or Conservative and in particular after the 
June Days, when the Socialists had excited disorder. 

Of the major presidential candidates in 1848, only Cavaignac 
and Louis-Napoleon seemed dedicated to preserving Order; but 
the Catholics suspected Cavaignac of wanting free and compul- 
sory education, which they were unwilling to sanction so long as 
all primary teachers were laymen. Louis-Napoleon, on the other 
hand, promised Montalembert that he would protect religion 
in France by advocating the principle of freedom to teach. He 
further guaranteed to protect the freedom and authority of the 
Pope, who, at that moment, had been chased from Rome by 
Italian revolutionaries. The Catholics, as a consequence, voted 
for Louis-Napoleon, making themselves political bedfellows of 
the bourgeois in the fight against socialism. 

The bourgeois did not return to the clerical camp after 1848 
because of a revival of faith, but because they had been taught a 
healthy fear of the revolutionary forces during the June Days. 
Church doctrine necessarily inculcated a respect for authority, 
which the bourgeois hoped to translate into political terms to 
preserve the status quo. Renan called them u Christians out of 
fear." The antisocialism of the Catholics was less selfish, if not 

j6 Montalembert 

disinterested: it may be held that the revolutionary doctrines 
were too materialistic to be compatible with Christianity, but 
Montalembert merely argued that the revolutionary doctrines 
would produce social chaos, which in turn would ruin religion. 

When the world saw troops of the French Republic overthrow 
the Roman Republic in 1849 and restore Pius DC to his city, the 
events suggested that the French government valued Order above 
republicanism. And the following year, when a new education 
kw was passed whose spirit was totally contrary to the tradition 
of French republicanism, the significance of the bourgeois-clerical 
alliance was clear: the Republic could not long survive. 

The Law of March 15, 1850, bore the name of the Minister of 
Public Instruction, the Vicomte de Falloux. Thought a Legiti- 
mist, he had been willing to enter the government in order to 
devise an education law more favorable to the Catholics. Toward 
this end, he appointed a committee which included Thiers, Du- 
panloup, and Montalembert to advise him on a new law. The 
committee was dominated by Liberal Catholics who, in the 1840'$, 
had been the most outspoken in denouncing the monopoly in 
primary education won by the anticlerical forces in the time 
of the French Revolution and Napoleon. (See the chapter on 

Had there been enough clergymen in France to staff all the 
primary schools, Falloux's committee would undoubtedly have 
recommended that the lay teachers be entirely removed from the 
public school system on the grounds that lay teachers were 
"Voltairian." But as it was impractical to destroy the Universit6, 
the committee settled on a compromise designed to weaken the 
control of the Universit6 over education. The law created a 
Higher Council for Education, which was composed of repre- 
sentatives from the legislative and judicial branches of the govern- 
ment, from the clergy, and from the administration of the Uni- 
versit6. Secondly, educational committees were created for each 
department to advise the departmental councils, and the local 
bishop was automatically a member of the local educational com- 
mittee. The kw also reduced the rectoral districts in size, creating 
eighty-six instead of sixteen, so that they coincided with the 


departments: a device intended to reduce the authority of the 
rectors of the Universit6 and put them on an administrative level 
with the local prefect and bishop. This last provision was extremely 
unpopular among the lay teachers and, four years later, the six- 
teen rectoral districts were reestablished. 

The Falloux Law also proclaimed the principle of freedom of 
teaching in primary and secondary schools. Anyone could open 
a school providing he was certified by the Universit6 or was a 
clergyman belonging to any sect recognized by the state. More 
to the point, municipal councils were again free to hire members 
of religious teaching orders for their local public schools, while 
in every town the mayor and the cur6 together selected the few 
children privileged to receive free education. 

The Republicans were, of course, furious at the new education 
kw, which they regarded as reactionary and oppressive, but 
Montalembert was chagrined to find many conservative Catholics 
opposed to the kw as well. Louis Veuillot, editor of UUnivers, 
condemned the kw for failing to give the Church monopolistic 
control of French education. Thus, the Catholics were seen to 
be divided as they had been during the July Monarchy; and 
the basic issue remained the same: whether to reach a modus 
vivendi with modern ideas and institutions or to remain intransi- 

Both factions of the Catholic party were unwilling, on the 
occasion of the coup <Ttat of 1851, to declare their loyalties 
immediately. Thanks to the Roman expedition and the Falloux 
Law, the Catholics were favorable to Louis-Napoleon, but he 
was surrounded by men known to be indifferent or hostile to 
the Church. After several days had passed and the President was 
seen to be firmly in the saddle, most Catholics veered toward 
acceptance of the coup <ftat, rationalizing that only the Presi- 
dent could maintain Order and recognizing that the Republicans 
in Parliament were unlikely to preserve die recent concessions 
made to the Church. 

Montalembert and the Liberal Catholics were more troubled 
than the Conservatives by the necessity of coming to terms with 
Louis-Napoleon, as the coup Shot threatened the integrity of 

~g Montalembert 

parliamentary government. Montalembert was among those 
Deputies who, on December 2nd, signed a protest against the 
coup. Nevertheless, he found his name on the Advisory Commis- 
sion, whose membership was revealed the next day in the Moni- 
teur and, in consequence, sent a protest to Morny, which was 
countersigned by thirteen other Deputies: 

Monsieur le Ministre, We learn from the newspapers that we have 
been nominated to be part of an Advisory Commission, created by 
yesterday's decree which you countersigned. In consideration of the 
unjust and sad incarceration of such a great number of our colleagues 
and friends, we cannot accept this function. 

Morny's response indicates he knew where Catholic susceptibili- 
ties lay: 

My dear Montalembert, The detained deputies have been held 
only because they wish it so. Several times they have been offered 
freedom. . . . Now let me give you a bit of advice. There are in this 
situation only the Prince and the Reds. . . . Can you hesitate? At 
this moment there is fighting in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. To re- 
fuse support to the government is a crime to put it briefly. . . . You 
who have such an excellent mind, can you seriously believe that your 
friends are being held? I guarantee that they can emerge whenever 
they wish. 

As Morny's note did not have the ring of despotism, Montalem- 
bert agreed to meet Louis-Napoleon on December 5th. The pres- 
sure to conform was increasing; he learned through his brother- 
in-law, Monseigneur de Mrode, that the Holy See approved the 
coup, and UUnivers committed the Conservative Catholics to 
support the regime on the 5th. At the interview, Louis-Napo- 
leon's promises were satisfactory to Montalembert. The Presi- 
dent guaranteed to maintain the principle of freedom of teach- 
ing, and as for universal suffrage which the Liberals opposed 
he said: 

Do not worry. I regard universal suffrage as the basis of power, but 
not as the usual method of carrying on government. I certainly want 
to be baptized, but that is no reason to live forever in water. 


Thus, when the Advisory Commission was constituted in its 
final form on December 13th, Montalembert's name appeared 
on the list. As a pledge of good faith, Morny ordered the pre- 
fects to see that Sundays be observed in their respective depart- 
ments. In turn, both Veuillot and Montalembert urged the Catho- 
lics to support the government in the plebiscite. Nearly all the 
bishops followed their lead. 

Montalembert's romance with the new r6gime was brief. On 
January 14, 1852, the new republican constitution made its ap- 
pearance, and it was only too clear that the regime would not 
be truly parliamentary. Three days later Montalembert rejected 
his nomination to the Senate and received, as a result, the fol- 
lowing from Louis-Napoleon: 

I hope that you realize the concern I fed over your indisposition. 
I am troubled to learn that your sentiments towards me are no 
longer what they were, I do not know why this change has come 
about, for I hold a genuine friendship for you and would be very 
sony to see something upset our good relations. 

Touched by the letter, Montalembert wavered. Then he 
learned of the Orleans confiscation on January 23rd, and was 
aghast at this seizure of private property and embarrassed that 
the Church was designated as one of the chief benefactors of 
this "theft." He broke with the regime by resigning from the 
Advisory Commission, but retained his elective seat in the Corps 

Despite the republican form of the new constitution, its spirit 
was autHbnt^anTlnijiative belonged to the' President aiCgjKT "A. 
law was prepared by the Ministry concerned, sent to the Council 
of State (men of "exceptional ability" appointed by the Presi- 
dent) for study, and then passed on to die Corps L6gislatif, the 
lower house. A legislative committee would then be appointed 
to examine the law; amendments could be suggested at this stage, 
but were subject to approval by the Council of State. In its final 
form, then, the law would be reported to the Corps 16gislatif, 
which had the prerogative of accepting or rejecting the bSL The 
appointive Senate played no role in the legislative process, but 

go Montalembert 

acted as a check upon the constitutionality of measures passed. 
Montalembert, chafed by the emasculation of the only elective 
body within the government the Corps 16gislatif consummated 
his rupture with the r6gime on June 12, 1852. He spoke not 
merely to the deputies, but to Louis-Napoleon, who attended that 
day's session: 

We are not the nation's illustrious; they are or will be all in the 
Senate, according to the Proclamation of December 2. We are not 
men of exceptional ability; they are all in the Council of State again 
according to the Proclamation of December 2. Thus, what are we? 
We are nothing but a handful of honest men who have been brought 
from the depths of our provinces to lend support to the government 
by giving our stamp of approval. 

uf the SeGoajRepublic into the Second Empire 
did notjlis^^ 

wfEITthe excepfioSTof Dupanloup, TJishop ofT5r!6ans, stood firmly 
behind the government and expressed little sympathy for Mon- 
talembert and his little band of Liberal Catholics. Most of the 
episcopacy were present for the Prince Imperial's baptism in 
1856, where the Cardinal Legate, Patrizi, represented the Pope 
as godfather. 

While Montalembert did believe in Order and authority, he 
refused to surrender his belief that the Church and State ought 
to be separate. The close alliance between the Emperor and the 
episcopacy, when combined with the absence of true parliamen- 
tary government, suggested the Old R6gime to Montalembert 
Indeed, was not the assumption of the numeral in by the Em- 
peror a claim to legitimacy? He could not tolerate hearing the 
clergy eulogize Napoleon HI, who was often likened to Charle- 
magne by those clergymen who rated political expediency above 
historical accuracy. 

Montalembert made his position clear in a brochure written 
in 1852: Catholic Interests in the Nineteenth Century, the gist of 
which revealed the influence of Lamennais. Absolute political 
power, Montalembert wrote, is incompatible with spiritual free- 
Sdom; as an absolutism will inevitably invade the spiritual realm 


as the only realm which remains beyond its grasp, it is the prac- 
tical obligation of Catholics to champion free political institu- 
tions. Only a tiny minority of the Catholics, however, shared 
Montalembert's view and, in particular after the proclamation of 
the Second Empire, he considered resigning his seat in the Corps 
16gislatif . The Liberal Catholics successfully pleaded that it was 
his obligation to the Church and to France to stay in Parliament 
to fight against absolute power. 

In its early years the Second Empire was a clerical but not a 
religious r6gime. Concessions made to the Church were minor, 
such as Moray's decree that Sundays ought to be observed; but 
the government not only failed to implement this particular de- 
cree, but ignored the major goals of the Church. The Articles 
organiques of 1802, which Napoleon I had tacked on the Con- 
cordat without Papal approval, were still in force; and, though 
not used, the government showed no interest in abolishing them 
to please the Church. Similarly, the Code Napolton subordinated 
religious marriage to civil marriage, in that the law regarded a 
marriage as valid even though not consecrated by the Church. 
When the clerical forces brought this problem up for debate in 
the Senate (1853), they were beaten flat. Another Catholic dis- 
appointment was the failure of the government to destroy the 
Universit6, which would have left the Church in control of edu- 
cation. Instead, the government guarded its power to hire and 
fire members of the teaching profession and of the academic ad- 
visory councils. Worse, from the Catholic view, was the Law of 
1854 which reestablished the sixteen rectoral districts and in- 
creased the authority of the rectors. 

The principle of freedom of teaching was maintained, it is 
true, as was the French garrison in Rome. Some of the French 
clergy chose to regard the Crimean War as a religious crusade 
growing out of the dispute in the Holy Land and, therefore, a 
demonstration of the government's concern for religion; they 
ignored the political origin of the conflict. One gets the impres- 
sion, in fact, that the alliance between Empire and clergy con- 
tinued to be the matter of convenience it had been since 1851; 
and, not being a matter of conviction, the alliance was dependent 

82 Montalembert 

upon the government's continued support of Papal authority. 
Recognizing that the r6gime was not truly religious only 
heightened Montalembert's determination to remain in opposi- 
tion. He witnessed with revulsion the public obeisance of Jacques 
Dupin (called Dupin the Elder) in 1853, a man of former parlia- 
mentary sympathies, who now urged Montalembert to make a 
similar reconciliation with the regime. The final paragraph of 
Montalembert's response to Dupin is noteworthy: 

As for me, I recognize only two castes or classes in France and 
in the world: those men of courage, intelligence, and honor, whom 
iniquity revolts, and who believe in conscience, liberty, and the 
dignity of honest men; and those courtiers of fear, force, and success, 
who exploit and lead the masses to the detriment of all the legiti- 
mate higher things with the bait of material profit. Between these 
two castes, I have always resolved to be in the first, and I am sorry 
to see you . . . make a gesture towards the second. You have been 
one of the marshals in the parliamentary army, where I served for 
some time with you and whose flag remains dear to me. Under that 
flag I got the habit of saying what I think on every possible occasion. 
Thus, pardon this philippic which derives from this bad habit, and do 
not believe less in my friendly devotion and high esteem. 

Had Montalembert merely sent this note to Dupin, the matter 
would have ended, but he made copies for his Liberal Catholic 
friends which made the rounds. Soon the government asked the 
Corps 16gislatif to punish Montalembert for offenses to the Em- 
peror, inciting hatred and suspicion of the government, and for 
disturbing the peace. A legislative committee was duly appointed 
to investigate, but it vetoed the charges. Prrgjpiy, thr Miiwffr 
ojche Interior j n*fri.gftH t W the matter drop T and Montalembert 
had to defend himself on the grounds that he had sbughF to at- 

faf*lr qfego1ntigm > not thfcPSrSOH n ^ ^ft "EVmpernr. The Corps 

16gislatif ultimately censured him by a vote of 184 to 51 with 
many members abstaining and the government was satisfied. 

With the bulk of the episcopacy devoted to the r6gime, the 
Liberal Catholics felt powerless to influence the course of events. 
Parisian salons and the Acad6mie franjaise proved to be their 
only remaining arenas. The Acad6mie was anti-Empire, and had 


elected Montalembert to membership in 1852, presumably to 
warn Louis-Napoleon against overthrowing the Republic. There- 
after, enemies of the Empire were the successful candidates for 
the Academic: Bishop Dupanloup and the Legitimist Berryer 
were elected in 1854, the latter's election being regarded as a 
direct challenge to Napoleon III. Berryer refused to pay the 
customary call on the sovereign, claiming he had won die right 
to omit the call in 1840, when he had defended Louis-Napoleon 
before the Chamber of Peers. The imperial response was written 
by Mocquard, Napoleon's secretary: 

The Emperor regrets that in the case of M. Berryer, the motives 
of the politician have transcended the duties of the academician. His 
presence at the Tuileries would not have caused the embarrassment 
which he seems to fear. From his lofty position, His Majesty would 
have seen only the orator and writer in the elect of the Academy, and 
in the adversary of the moment only the defender of yesterday. 

Another Legitimist, the Vicomte de Falloux, was elected to the 
Academic in 1857, along with the Orleanist Due Victor de 
Broglie; and in 1860 Father Lacordaire joined the august band. 

To suggest that these six did not merit election to the Academic 
frangaise would be unjust, but their elections did imply that the 
Academicians recognized hostility to Napoleon Ill's r6gime as an 
outward sign of literary excellence. Opposition was the Acad6- 
mie's esprit de corps, the epigram and innuendo its standard weap- 
ons. The Academicians* dilemma is reminiscent of that of the 
Tory poets and essayists in the eighteenth century who turned 
to satire in the backwash of revolutionary political developments, 
which they found themselves powerless to retard. The old order 
seemed to dissolve, while the new order seemed founded on cor- 
ruption and immorality. 

Here is Armand de Pontmartin writing in 1875 * ^ e Acade- 

Now that the Empire has fallen, we can frankly avow that nothing 
was more childish or more senile than this monomania of furious op- 
position, contrary to the spirit and the origins of the Institut, and 

84 Montalembert 

made ridiculous by the age and impotence of the fault-finders, whose 
violences would have been dangerous for themselves had the govern- 
ment really taken them seriously. 

Several Liberal Catholics, including Montalembert, Falloux, 
and Broglie, did not limit their activity to the Acad6mie, but 
took over an old Catholic journal hi 1855, Le Correspondent, the 
better to do battle with Vflnillnt and the Conservative Catholics 
who supported the r6gime. Falloux, in particular, sensed that 
Napoleon III was not inclined toward despotism, and attacked 
Veuillot's UUnivers as being "more imperial than the Empire" 
in its frank espousal of absolutism. 

Officially the government did not participate in the quarrel 
between the two Catholic factions, though it was glad for the 
support which UUnivers gave the regime. Actually, Napoleon 
III was antagonized by Veuillot's extremism, and it is ironical that 
His Majesty received no aid from the Liberal Catholic party, 
which was in many respects closer to him in spirit than was 
Veuillot. Indeed, ffifii^thn jTru^^ Nnpnlrnn in 

^ Tt*4y 71 ia'pursHit nf hks 

modifi&cLhis enthusiasm 

for theJEmpsror. Fearing that Napoleon III might end by de- 
stroying the foundations of absolutism in France, Veuillot com- 
plained that His Majesty was turning out to be "only a perfected 

Meanwhile, Montalembert's opposition won him the distinc- 
tion of being the only member of the Corps 16gislatif who, having 
had official support in the 1852 election, did not again receive 
it in the election of 1857. Nevertheless, he stood for election in 
the Besangon district, which had three times before elected him 
to public office. He ran a poor third: 17,387 for the official candi- 
date, 7,134 for a Republican, while Montalembert received only 
4,378 votes, 15 per cent of the votes cast. Parliament had lost 
one of its most ardent parliamentarians. 

A second humiliation followed late in 1858 after Montalembert 
published in Le Correspondant an article entitled "A debate on 
India in the British Parliament." While a timely piece in con- 


sideration of the recent Sepoy Mutiny, Montalemberfs real aim 
was a comparison of the powers of the British and French Parlia- 
ments. He was sentenced to six months in prison for his criticism 
of the French system, but Napoleon III pardoned him on the 
anniversary of the coup d?tat. As Montalembert refused the 
pardon, he was condemned a second time and simply released. 
The Emperor had no intention of imprisoning Montalembert, but 
explained that he was wearying of the conspiracy by the men of 
letters against him and that he sought to read them a lesson. 

Both Catholic parties, meanwhile, had begun to watch with 
suspicious eye the development of Italian nationalism, fearful 
that the temporal power of the Papacy would be destroyed. 
(Other facets of the Italian Question are discussed in the chapters 
on Persigny, Castiglione, and Duruy.) The temporal power dated 
from the eighth century when Pepin the Short, having defended 
Pope Stephen II against the Lombards, granted the Pope territory 
and temporal authority in the hope of assuring the independence 
of the Papacy. Temporal power was a means of securing spiritual 
freedom, and was not an end in itself. 

In the nineteenth century the temporal power of the Papacy 
was insignificant in the face of the great military states of Europe; 
but the Popes clung to their temporal power as a matter of princi- 
ple. To surrender it might lead to the loss of Rome itself; further- 
more, the Papacy did not accept the liberal notion that the spirit- 
ual authority ought to be separate from temporal affairs. 

As Napoleon HI moved toward helping the Italians realize 
their national ambitions in the late 1850'$, it became customary 
for the French government to suggest that reforms were over- 
due in the Papal States. Pius DC, who had lost his faith in liberal- 
ism when the Italian nationalists had turned on him for failure to 
lead their movement, refused to sanction any changes wrought by 
revolutionary action in the name of modern doctrines; but he 
was not opposed to good government. In fact, the government 
of the Papal States in the time of Pius DC was moderate, and if 
the Pope was cautious in making reforms it must be ascribed in 
part to his unwillingness to appear to be knuckling under to 
French pressure. Pius DC understood that Napoleon's government 

86 Montalembert 

merely sought to weaken the prestige of the Papacy in advancing 
the claims of Italy. Reform was not the real issue. Cardinal An- 
tonelli, Papal Secretary of State, underscored the vulnerability 
of the French suggestions in a remark to the French ambassador, 
the Due de Gramont: "Thus, the French people are enjoying so 
many liberties that they feel the need of exporting them?" 

The spectacle of a dictatorship urging liberal reforms upon 
another state was not the only aspect of the Roman Question 
embarrassing to Napoleon III. He was advancing the claims of 
Italy, while protecting the Pope in Rome with French troops. 
His proposaljpjiiakejihf! Pnpe-jhei^regdentjrfjin Italianjfidega- 
tion, which would have included SdSiaiombardy^Vdietia, 
Parma, Modena, Tuscany, Naples, and the Papal States, was 
vetoed by Pius IX, who persisted in refusing to become a national 
leader. The plan was no more satisfactory to the Sardinian gov- 
ernment, which wanted a united Italy under the House of Savoy. 

Montalembert was furious at the events of 1859-1860, when 
Napoleon III aided Sardinia with troops to wrest the province 
of Lombardy from Austria, and went on to sanction revolution- 
ary-inspired plebiscites which joined Parma, Modena, and Tus- 
cany to Sardinia and despoiled the Papacy of Romagna. He pub- 
lished a pamphlet entitled Pius IX and France in 1849 an d * n l $59* 
The thesis was that in 1849, French troops had been sent to Rome 
as an expression of the will of the French nation, but in 1859 ^ 
national will could no longer prevail over the sovereign's will 
And Montalembert was essentially correct: the last-minute en- 
thusiasm for the War of 1859 on the part of the Parisian working 
class should not obscure the antagonism which the nation dem- 
onstrated when His Majesty was seen to encourage Sardinian 
ambitions. The Conservative Catholics, in particular, put up such 
a howl that the government temporarily suppressed L'Univers 
in 1860. 

Yet, the French government was not indifferent to Catholic 
interests elsewhere. At the height of the Roman Question, French 
troops had been landed in Syria to restore order after 12,000 
Christians had been massacred by the Moslem Druses. A similar 
expedition to China avenged the death of missionaries and secured 


for Catholic missions the right to hold land in China. Both com- 
mercial and religious interests were at stake in China, of course, 
but the government clearly hoped to please the French Catholics 
with its China policy as it did with its Mexican policy. 

But as for Rome, Napoleon III expressed his desire to evacuate 
his troops following the annexation of Romagna by Sardinia. 
When the Neapolitan government refused to supply a force to 
replace the Roman garrison, the French Foreign Minister, Thou- 
venel, proposed to have Rome garrisoned by Belgian, Spanish, 
Bavarian, and Portuguese troops, and to have all the powers guar- 
antee to the Pope the possession of his territory excepting 
Romagna. The Pope, however, would not be part of any agree- 
ment which forced him to recognize the loss of Romagna, and 
Napoleon III was opposed to committing himself to guarantee 
the remainder of the Papal States. 

An alternative was suggested by the Papacy, as eager to see 
the evacuation of the French troops as was the Emperor: that a 
Papal Army be recruited from Catholics of all nationalities. The 
French government refused to allow its nationals to serve in 
foreign armies without prior permission from Paris; nevertheless, 
the Pope offered the command of his force to Lamorici&re, a 
French general hostile to the Second Empire. 

Lamoridtere, a Republican, had been proscribed in 1851. Sub- 
sequently he had shed his republicanism, but became an ardent 
Catholic, and as such, remained unfriendly to the r6gime. He 
had returned to France from exile after the amnesty of 1859, 
but now in 1860 he went secretly to Rome to assume com- 
mand of the Papal Army. The French Ambassador demanded 
that the Papacy ask the French government for authorization to 
hire Lamoriciire, which was granted on April 5th. M6rode, 
Montalembert's brother-in-law, was made the Papal Minister of 
Arms, adding to the suggestion that the Papacy was making 
common cause with enemies of Napoleon HI. 

More eager than ever to evacuate Rome, the French reached 
an agreement with the Papacy in May for the evacuation of the 
garrison in September. Meanwhile, the Papacy speeded the re- 
cruitment of its own force and, by September, had attracted no 

88 Montalembert 

less than 4,000 French citizens amongst others. Practically none 
of them bothered to secure the official permission of the French 
government, thus technically losing their citizenship; but the 
government continued to regard them as French. 

But at the very moment when the French were agreeing to 
evacuate Rome, Garibaldi was overrunning Sicily, and in August 
of 1860 he crossed the straits into Naples. The French, expecting 
to depart in September, were forced to reinforce their Rome 
garrison, while the Sardinians horrified at the thought of a clash 
between Garibaldi and the French invaded the Papal provinces 
of Umbria and the Marches in the hope of intercepting Garibaldi. 
Lamoricifcre's little force went out to block the Sardinian ad- 
vance and was smashed at Castelfidardo, permitting the Sardinians 
to prevent Garibaldi from assaulting Rome. 

The French did nothing to evict the Sardinians or Garibaldi 
from Umbria, the Marches, and Naples, where plebiscites soon 
registered the popular desire to be annexed by Sardinia, but as 
Rome was now unguarded, the French stayed on. Opinion in 
France was largely opposed to allowing the Italians to have Rome, 
and as Russia threatened to require embarrassing concessions 
from France in exchange for supporting France in Italy, Napo- 
leon ffl called a halt to Italian unification short of Rome and 
Venetia. The Republican minority in France accused the govern- 
ment of acting in contradiction to its own principles the sov- 
ereignty of the people in maintaining the Roman occupation, 
but the government was determined to await the death of Pius DC 
before renewing negotiations for an evacuation. 

Montalembert, meanwhile, felt required by the seriousness of 
the Roman Question to stand for Parliament in the elections of 
1863. Once again he ran in the Besanjon district (Department of 
Doufas), but as he failed to campaign in person, the significance 
of his defeat was impossible to calculate. He received the en- 
thusiastic support of the clergy, and Emile Ollivier urged the 
Republicans to vote for him. Despite all, the official candidate 
received 20,500 votes to Montalembert's 9,000. He stood for 
election in the Department of Cdtes-du-Nord also, but here he 
ran far behind the winning Republican, Glais-Bizoin, and the 


official candidate who finished second. In general, the elections 
of 1863 showed that the clergy was annoyed at the government, 
but not sufficiently annoyed to ally with the Republicans. (See 
the chapter on Persigny.) 

The Liberal. Catholics, injjie i86o's. tv>gar^ f^jrjkr^Tr 
with the r6gjme in 18^2 as vindicated by Napoleon IITs-JaHan 
policy;" they struck out anew at the Conservative Catholics at a 
OBelral Catholic Congress held in Malines, Belgium, in 1863. 
Montalembert spoke in his usual vein: the less the Church is 
bound to any political power, the stronger she becomes in the 
eyes of modern society. These liberal views were repeated the 
following year at Malines by Dupanloup, but were heeded neither 
by the Papacy nor by the French government. The Pope did not 
believe in disestablishment, and the government had no intention 
of surrendering its rights under the Concordat of 1801. Instead, 
Montalembert was condemned by Pius IX in 1864 and his at- 
tention was called to Gregory XVTs Mirari vos. Most of the 
Liberals on Le Corresfondant then gave up the fight and deserted 

Meanwhile, the French and Italian governments had begun 
negotiations toward making a French evacuation of Rome pos- 
sible. By the Convention of September 15, 1864, the two powers 
settled the problem of garrisoning Rome without bothering to 
consult the Pontifical government. The French would withdraw 
from Rome within two years in progressive stages proportion- 
ate to the ability of the Papal Army to assume die defensive du- 
ties, while the Italians agreed to respect and protect the Papal 
States and to allow the formation of a new Papal Army. A secret 
clause made the treaty dependent upon the Italians transferring 
their capital from Turin to Florence as a symbol of their aban- 
doning designs on Rome. 

Informally, the two chief negotiators, Drouyn de Lhuys and 
Nigra, understood that an Italian occupation of Rome was only a 
matter of time after a French evacuation, but Drouyn de Lhuys 
asked the Italians to allow a "decent time" to ekpse so as not to 
incriminate the French. But when the Convention was published, 
it proved so unpopular in Italy that the Italian government felt 

Q Montalembert 

obliged to proclaim that it had not abandoned the hope of ob- 
taining Rome, but had merely pledged not to take Rome by force. 
The French then hastily announced that they would not allow 
the Italians to take advantage of a "spontaneous revolution" in 
Rome; that they understood the Convention of September i4th 
to guarantee Papal independence. The clericals, however, were 
convinced that Napoleon III meant to abandon the Papacy. 

On December 8, 1864, Pius IX published the encyclical Quanta 
cura> to which he attached a Syllabus of the principal errors of 
the time. Many of the errors were those of the Liberal Catholics, 
the seventy-seventh proposition for instance: "In our time, it is 
no longer practical to regard the Catholic religion as the unique 
religion of the state to the exclusion of all others." And the eight- 
ieth proposition in particular: "The Roman Pontiff can and must 
be reconciled to and come to terms with progress, liberalism, 
and modern civilization." 

No one was more offended by the Syllabus than Napoleon IE, 
and Catholics everywhere were astonished at the Pope's lack of 
political sagacity. The French government took the view that 
Rus DCs ideas were contrary to the ideas upon which the con- 
stitution was based, and French bishops were forbidden to pub- 
lish the encyclical in their dioceses. It made little difference to 
the French that Pius DC published the Syllabus for the benefit of a 
small group of Liberal Catholic clergy in Sardinia, who had op- 
posed Rome's will in regard to the temporal power and public 
education, for the Syllabus was available in countries other than 
Sardinia, and its strictures were too general to apply merely to 
Sardinia. And as for Montalembert, the Syllabus seemed to under- 
line the condemnation already received that year. 

Bishop Dupanloup, rather than Montalembert, made the Liberal 
Catholic reply to Pius DCs attack upon modernity in a pamphlet 
entitled The Convention of September 15 and the Encyclical of 
December 8, 1864. He first condemned the Convention in order 
to make his commentaries on the encyclical more palatable to 
the Pope. As for the encyclical, he styled it a statement of "an 
ideal Christian society," which was intended to warn against the 
abuses of modern liberalism rather than start a feud with the 


entire modern world. The alacrity with which 636 Roman Cath- 
olic bishops from all parts of the world supported Dupanloup's 
interpretation led the Pope to congratulate Dupanloup for ex- 
plaining the encyclical's "true meaning." 

Dupanloup's criticism of the Convention of September 15th, 
however, made no impression on Napoleon's government, and 
the first installment of the French evacuation from Rome took 
place in December, 1865. Tte remaining troops were withdrawn 
by the end of the following year and, in the meantime, the French 
helped organize a Roman Legion of 1,200 men which took over 
the duties of the French garrison. The clericals remained con- 
vinced that Napoleon III meant to continue his support of Italian 
nationalism, particularly as he helped the Italians gain Venetia in 
1866; and, of course, the Italians presumed the same thing, re- 
membering Drouyn de Lhuys's "decent time" remark in 1864. 

Garibaldi's second attempt to take Rome in 1867 gave Napo- 
leon HI the opportunity to demonstrate that he did not contem- 
plate abandoning Rome to the Italians at least not at the mo- 
ment. When the Italian government failed to honor its obliga- 
tions under the Convention of September 15th, ten thousand 
French troops, armed with the new Chassepot rifles, were sent 
for the defense of Rome. At the Battle of Mentana, the Chassepots 
"worked marvels" to frustrate Garibaldi once again. 

Subsequently, the distinguished member of the Opposition, 
Thiers, rose in the Corps 16gislatif to denounce Italian national- 
ism and to ask further guarantees that Rome be denied to the 
Italians. Thiers was no partisan of the clericals, but he regarded 
the Emperor's support of the principle of nation-states as inimical 
to French security. His speech was well received in Parliament, 
forcing Rouher, the Minister of State, to retrieve the initiative 
by shouting that France would "never" allow the Papacy to be 
despoiled. In a subsequent meeting of the ministers, the Emperor 
twitted Rouher to the effect that in politics one does not use the 
word "never." 

Thiers's example is illustrative of the uneasiness felt in France 
after 1866, when French hegemony seemed threatened by the 
apparent unwillingness of the Emperor to check the rising star 

92 Montalembert 

of Prussia. Like Thiers's ^nWicm, th^iP creas * n g clericalism of 
the gasat^inajprityLi^ owing to a genuine 

devotion jrojbfi-Papacy, but to the suspicion ~.that~the. reverse, 
suffered by thejggime were attributable to the .more Jjberal f or- 
dgn^g^domesticpoEg^ favored by HBsJVlaiesty:. and dating 
frQiaj[8jg. Born of fear, this clericalism was actually conserva- 

In preventing Garibaldi from taking Rome, and in failing to 
develop the parliamentary reforms projected in 1866 (see the 
chapter on Ollivier), Napoleon III seemed to bend to the clerical 
wilL Moreover, four leading anticlericals were absent from office 
Persigny, Moray, Thouvenel, and Prince Napoleon giving 
further credence to the popular notion that the Second Empire 
was becoming clerical. On the other hand, Persigny had fallen 
from office owing to inefficiency, Prince Napoleon because of 
his continual indiscretions, and Morny and Thouvenel were 
dead. And if the Empire had become clerical, why did the Em- 
peror continue to sponsor Duruy's anticlerical education reforms? 
And why did he announce, after the defeat of Garibaldi, that 
he regarded the Convention of September ifth still in effect and 
hoped for the reevacuation of French troops from Rome? ^-In- 
short, hf; remained an anticlerical liberal momentarily^frustrated 
by tte clerica^ which sftranftH mo formid- 

able to risk^offending; but, remembering Moray's advice to court 
the intelKgensS, "His Majesty continued to give hints of his liberal- 
ism in the hope they would recognize his dilemma. 

In the elections of 1869, the Republicans profited from the 
Emperor's attempt to please everybody. The Republicans had 
the longest tradition of anticlericalism and collected the votes 
of anticlericals who could no longer be certain that the Empire 
meant anticlericalism. And the Liberal Catholics voted against 
the official candidates in the interest of parliamentary govern- 
ment, adding to the Republican votes in some districts. In con- 
sequence, the leading Bonapartists insisted that the Empire must 
become outwardly more clerical, which meant more conservative. 
As a result of the elections of 1869, then, Napoleon HI reconsti- 
tuted his cabinet along clerical lines; La Tour d'Auvergne, a 


clerical, became the new Foreign Minister, but the fall of Duruy 
gave the clericals the greatest satisfaction. 

The ironical side of this apparent shift toward clericalism in 
1869 is that it came when Napoleon III was pondering the es- 
tablishment of genuine parliamentary monarchy; but he found 
so little support for liberal government from those who sur- 
rounded him that he was obliged to move slowly even in the 
opposite direction for a time and ultimately to summon a lead- 
ing Republican to direct the drift toward Liberal Empire. 

That Republican, JEittfe-QUiyier, was quickly elected to the 
Acad6mie frangaise in 1870, having been backed by Montalem- 
bert. Ollivier's election not only marked a reconciliation between 
the Acad6mie and the regime, but suggests that Montalembert 
would have rallied once again to the support of Napoleon HI and 
parliamentary government had he lived. Montalembert did not 
live to see OUivier received by the Academic, and the latter in 
his reception speech paid tribute to Montalembert: 

He believed that my election would have the natural effect of re- 
newing the relations, which the Chief of State broke following the 
open opposition of the Acad&nie. . . . Moreover, he thought it fit- 
ting that an institution which had desired liberty so much should 
demonstrate its satisfaction at the reestablishment of liberty by call- 
ing into its midst a minister of the sovereign who had heard the 
wishes of public opinion. 

Montalembert's declining years were full of anguish. In 1865 
he began to suffer from Napoleon Ill's ailment kidney stones 
just when he had planned a trip to the United States. Pleased by 
the outcome of the Civil War, he had written an article called 
"The Victory of the North," which won him official thanks from 
the President. The trip was postponed in favor of an operation, 
but the trouble was not remedied. In 1867 he was able to move to 
the M6rode manor near Brussels, Chateau de Rixensart, where 
he received a continual train of Liberal Catholic visitors. He also 
began studying the works of the sociologist Le Play, with whom 
he undertook a lengthy correspondence. 

But Montalembert's anguish was mental even more than physi- 

94 Montalembert 

cal in these years. The Papal condemnation of liberalism not only 
cut the ground from under the Liberal Catholics, but made a 
mockery of a fundamental Liberal Catholic tenet which equated 
ultramontanism with liberalism. Undeniably ultramontanism had 
grown, owing in part to the political defeats suffered by Gallican- 
ism in France, but also to die increasing popularity of Pius DC, 
whose tribulations won him widespread sympathy; but with the 
growth of ultramontanism came the Syllabus of errors and a drift 
toward PagaHnfallibiliiy, which, in the eyes of Liberal Catholics, 
was a form of the absolutism they hated. 

The doctrine of Papal Infallibility had been approved by some 
medieval theologians but denied by the Council of Constance and 
omitted from the deliberations of the Council of Trent. Pius IX 
was often accused of reviving the doctrine as a matter of personal 
vanity and to assuage the pain born of the losses in temporal 
power, but such assertions are quite untenable. The Dogma of 
the Immaculate Conception, for instance, was affirmed by Pius 
IX in 1854 without any conciliar action, suggesting that Papal 
Infallibility was accepted in fact years before the temporal spolia- 
tion began and long before becoming dogma. 

Rather, when Pius IX summoned a Vatican Council in 1869 
for the purpose of defining the Dogma of Papal Infallibility, he 
sought by tating advantage of the growth of ultramontanism 
to unify and mobilize the Catholic forces to meet the challenge 
of modern civilization. The Liberal Catholics had supposed that 
religion and modernity could be reconciled; Pius IX and the 
Conservatives saw modernity as positivism and materialism, and 
there could be no reconciliation with those who denied the super- 
natural elements of Christianity. This cleavage between the two 
Catholic parties was brutally illuminated by an article in the 
Gviltd, Cattolica immediately before the opening of the Vatican 
Council Presumably inspired by the Papacy, the article reads: 
"No one is unaware that the Catholics of France are unfortu- 
nately divided into two parties: one, simply Catholics; the other, 
those who call themselves Liberal Catholics." To have the Vatican 
imply that the Liberal Catholics were not true Catholics was a 
final disaster for Montalembert and his friends. 


Perhaps the supreme irony of the situation from the Liberal 
Catholic view was the tendency of Rome, by 1869, to regard the 
Liberal Catholics as allied to Gallicanism. In their bitterness, 
many of the Liberal Catholics did, indeed, begin to suggest that 
if ultramontanism meant a Papal absolutism, the Gallican Church 
might be the only hope of liberty. On March 7, 1870, the dying 
Montalembert published an extreme attack upon Pius DC in the 
Legitimist Gazette de France, which implied the failure of his 
life and work: 

Who would have expected . . . the permanent triumph of those 
lay theologians of absolutism who began by sacrificing all our liberties, 
all our principles, and all our earlier ideas to Napoleon III in order 
in due course to offer up justice and truth, reason and history, as a 
holocaust to the idol they are now erecting at the Vatican? 

Six days later the unfortunate Montalembert was dead. His 
brother-in-law, M6rode, planned a Requiem Mass in Rome, which 
Pius IX forbade, ostensibly to prevent a possible Liberal Catholic 
demonstration during the sitting of the Vatican Council. In his 
difficulties with Pope and Emperor, Montalembert's politics were 
to blame his desire to modernize both Church and State. No one 
challenged his piety or accused him of heresy. Even UUnivers 
proclaimed, on the day following his death, "M. de Montalembert 
has been, among the laymen of our time, the one who gave the 
greatest and the most devoted service to the Church." 


Jacques Offenbach 


God shows the little regard He has for 
the riches of this *world by the 'worth of 
those to whom He has gfven them. 


Jacques Offenbach 

In 1802, the year that a warring Europe paused to catch her 
breath, Isaac Offenbacher left his family home in Offenbach-am- 
Main, near Frankfurt, for the greener pastures of Cologne, drop- 
ping the final two letters of the family name in the interest of 
his career as violinist and cantor. His household was governed 
by poverty. Even living rent-free, thanks to the synagogue, Isaac 
preserved hard times through arithmetic procreation, achieving 
a family of ten. 

Jacob, the seventh child, was born on June 20, 1819. His pro- 
fession was quickly designed: a violinist at six, composer of songs 
at eight, and a cellist at nine. The father, elder brother Julius, 
and Jacob formed a trio which played at taverns and dances, but 
even this child labor did not provide for an increasing family. 
Thus it was that Isaac decided to send the two boys to Paris; 
he would make them independent while giving them opportunity, 
as he believed Paris to be the only European city where Jewish 
artists could make a name. 

Change in residence again dictated a change in name: Julius 
became Jules and Jacob became Jacques. They were eighteen and 
fourteen respectively. The elder was immediately employed as a 
theater violinist, giving Jacques opportunity to study under 
Cherubini at the Conservatory, but the favored brother preferred 
theatrical life to academic, and remained at the Conservatory only 
one year. 

He became a cellist, then, at the Op6ra-Comique. Here he met 
Fromental Hatevy, composer of La Juive, who consented to give 
Offenbach composition lessons. As Offenbach's enthusiasm to be 
a composer grew, he ventured to write dances in several forms: 
waltzes and cancans. The waltz, a respectable dance form, en- 
joyed great vogue in Paris, and Hatevy introduced his young 


pupa to Jullien, a popular conductor of waltzes in the 1830*8. 
Offenbach's first waltzes were heard at the Turkish Garden in 
1836 under Jullien's direction, and at least one of them, 'Winter 
Flowers," enjoyed success for several seasons. In 1837 he received 
a spanking from a critic writing in Le M&nestrel for having used 
synagogue themes in his waltz "Rebecca" and thus profaning 
religious melodies, but the hostile review failed to dim Offen- 
bach's growing popularity. 

Success did not bring him satisfaction. Sensing that his talent 
lay beyond the cellist's desk, he resigned from the Op6ra-Comique 
and broke with the conductor Jullien. His emancipation from the 
orchestra pit led him directly into Parisian salons and the oppor- 
tunity to prepare musical skits and fantasies. He met Friedrich 
von Flotow shortly after leaving the Op6ra-Comique, and Flotow, 
a wealthy Mecldembourgeois, introduced Offenbach at the salons 
on his circuit. The two improvised piano-cello fantasies. Their 
success not only brought needed money to Offenbach, but gave 
him opportunity to observe the wealthy at home: the ostentation 
and arrivisme he would later satirize. 

Favorable results in salons led Offenbach to the stage. In early 
1839 he gave a public concert; but while his romantic waltzes 
were warmly applauded, his mind continually returned to can- 
cans and comedy. Two months later he wrote several songs for a 
farce called Pascal and Chambord which ended in miserable 
fiasco. At twenty his hopes were dashed; he felt doomed to a life 
with his cello; and he resigned himself to giving lessons, writing 
cello exercises, and playing in salons. 

But his confidence and courage slowly revived. By 1843 he was 
preparing a concert of his own works, which would feature a skit 
written for the occasion, The Surly Monk or the Two Poltroons. 
The setting was medieval: two men, meeting by chance at night 
on a dark street, mistake each other for Victor Hugo's frightful 
Quasimodo and, thus, sing happy songs to keep up their courage* 
Finally recognizing each other as neighbors, they go off home. 
This work, surprisingly enough, was well received, which left 
Offenbach convinced that the light and comic drama was his 

ioo Jacques Offenbach 

Shortly after, he met Herminie Mitchell and fell in love. 
Mitchell' pre, a London impresario, maintained a home in Paris, 
and though Herminie was his stepdaughter, he was as solicitous 
for her future happiness and welfare as if she had been his own. 
And a devoted father would have been doubly doubtful about 
Offenbach as a son-in-law: a strange-looking creature, tall and 
extremely thin, long hair, always agitated and trembling, and 
rightly styled "a knife-blade with a large nose which was always 
crowned by glasses and a ribbon." Furthermore, as a musician, 
Offenbach's financial future was questionable. To prove his 
worth, Offenbach made a concert tour through the provinces in 
1844, but even his undeniable success did not reconcile the 
Mitchells. They tested him again with a round of concerts in 
England, including a performance before Victoria and Albert; 
after this triumph, only one barrier remained: his religion. Mme. 
Mitchell, Spanish-born, insisted on his conversion to Catholicism, 
and as Offenbach was indifferent to religion, he readily consented. 
The wedding took place on August 14, 1844. Despite having won 
Herminie with demonstrations of platform prowess, both Her- 
minie and Jacques agreed that his future lay in composing for the 
theater and not as a virtuoso cellist. Her encouragement and 
strength made the lean years bearable; she did not badger him to 
return to the concert stage in the hope of prosperity. 

If Offenbach ultimately succeeded in the world of comic opera, 
his exceptional talent, his wife's loyalty, and his persistence were 
not alone responsible. Offenbach had become completely Parisian; 
his tastes and pleasures were those of les dandy s a word newly 
born to usage. He dreamed of founding a "boredom insurance 
company." Unlike a Bach or a 


The world of pleasure in the 1830*5 was expanding from salon 
and boudoir to the boulevard, the racetrack, and the club. In an 
era of rapid economic expansion, more people had money, and 
they demanded facilities for its squandering. The newly rich 
were not hampered by any traditions of responsibility or leader- 
ship: an age of rampant individualism, of self-indulgence. Here 
was the Marquis du Hallays-Coetquen, student of the ballet and 


a collector of pornography; Lord Henry Seymour, dandy and 
lover of horses; Dr. Vron, one-time director of the Opera, later 
the owner of Le Constitutionnel, who directed a coterie at the 
Caf6 de Paris; Roger de Veauvoir, who also held forth at the Caf6 
de Paris in his gilded vests and with his cane of rhinoceros horn; 
Nestor Roqueplan, the journalist semidandy, semieccentric in- 
tellectual; Lola Montez, who danced at the Porte Saint-Martin 
Theater; and Th6rese Lachman, the Russian prostitute who be- 
came known as La Paiva. They and their kind were neither the 
heart nor the soul of France, but their incredible adventures drew 
the limelight. 

The Revolution of 1848 momentarily put an end to giddiness, 
and had the Republicans triumphed in the months that followed, 
frivolity might well have been permanently curbed. French re- 
publicanism was tinged with puritanism and had clamped Paris 
under blue laws in the 1790*5. Uncertain of the political future, 
and timid by nature, Offenbach took his wife and child to 
Cologne, where they remained nearly a year. By 1849, when order 
had been clearly restored and chaos avoided, Offenbach felt it safe 
to return. 

The Second Republic and Second Empire were a new era in 
name alone; the essence of the July Monarchy remained. The new 
spirit of the boulevards during the Monarchy was a sign that 
Parisians intended to live in their city, not merely work in it; the 
designs of Baron Haussmann during the Empire, which renovated 
and modernized, made the city more livable. The spirit of ac- 
quisitiveness, more sharply focused by the industrialization of the 
1830*5 and 1840*5, remained the spirit of the Empire. And Offen- 
bach, who had not yet scored a major theatrical triumph, could 
work toward that goal in confidence. Frivolity had not been ban- 

Meanwhile, Offenbach was driven to expediency by the pinch 
of poverty. In 1850 he accepted an offer of six thousand francs a 
year from Ars&ne Houssaye to take the direction of the orchestra 
at the Com6die-Fran9aise. Houssaye, manager of the theater, had 
wearied of the wretched sounds emanating from the pit, and gave 
Offenbach freedom to revitalize the orchestra. As Offenbach im- 

102 Jacques Offenbach 

proved the orchestra, he incurred the wrath of the actors, who 
were unwilling to admit to the theater any excellence other than 
their own. Month after month, actors and musicians sabotaged 
each other's performances until the frail Offenbach was pro- 
foundly depressed. His depression deepened in May of 1853, 
when his one-act musical comedy The Treasure at Mathurin 
failed at the Op6ra-Comique. 

Five months later the tide turned favorably. His Pepito enjoyed 
a reasonable success at the Varieties Theater and, soon after, he 
completed a "dramatic Decameron" of ten dances, each one dedi- 
cated to an actress at the Comedie-Frangaise. He also began writ- 
ing for L* Artiste, a journal published by Ars&ne Houssaye, again 
because it brought money and not because he aspired to be a 

It fell to Florimond Ronge, known as Herv6, to introduce suc- 
cessfully the comic operas which Offenbach contemplated. Using 
the comic duet and die cancan, later characteristic of Offenbach, 
Herve presented a one-act comic opera called La Gargouillada at 
the Palais-Royal Theater, where he was orchestra conductor. It 
was a parody of Italian grand opera, which brought Herv6 the 
support of die Comte de Morny and a license to open a new 
theater on the Boulevard du Temple: the Concert Follies, which 
was renamed the New Follies in 1854. The license allowed one-act 
productions with two characters, which Herv6 occasionally cir- 
cumvented by adding a "singing corpse" to his cast. 

The cancan was the scandal and the rage of the day. It derived 
from a dance called the chahut, discovered during the July Mon- 
archy by soldiers serving in Algeria. In the form we know it 
today, the cancan might be styled suggestive; in the 1830^ the 
absence of underskirts made the dance explicit. After an invasion 
of the Varieties Theater by a pack of jeunesse dorte led by Lord 
Henry Seymour, who interrupted the program and entertained 
a delighted crowd with a wild cancan, the fortune of the dance 
was made. Vigorous police action against the dance further en- 
sured its popularity and longevity. 

Offenbach was delighted by Herd's success and soon took him 
a manuscript entitled Oyayale or the Queen of the Islands. Pleased 


by Offenbach's enthusiasm for the Optra bouffe, Herv6 agreed to 
produce the work. It was the story of a double-bass player who, 
having lost his job, landed in a cannibal country. He was seized 
by the cannibals, stripped of all but collar, hat, tie, and shoes, 
and presented to Queen Oyayaie. Sentenced to satisfy either her 
love or her hunger, the musician made good his escape by rowing 
away on his bass. 

The government to digress a moment licensed theaters 
through the Ministry of the Interior in the interest of censorship. 
Primarily the censorship was imposed for the regime's security, 
but also to please the ecclesiastical authorities, whose support the 
government cherished. The theatrical manager who adhered to 
the letter of the kw could expect a new license permitting longer 
productions with larger casts. The evidence suggests that he had 
to be concerned more with preventing political offenses than with 
offenses to the public morality. 

The production was successful, and Herv6, whose assistance 
had made Offenbach's entry into opSra bouffe possible, soon be- 
came jealous of his rival. His jealousy bred ill-health, and by 
1856, when Offenbach had scored several triumphs, Herv6 was 
forced to retire temporarily from the theater. In the meantime, 
Offenbach had taken full advantage of the Exposition of 1855 to 
consolidate the position won with Queen Oyayaie. 

Some weeks before the opening of the Exposition, Offenbach 
began negotiating for a small theater near the new Palace of 
Industry, but the competition for the theater was intense owing 
to its strategic location. He appealed to the actresses to whom 
he had dedicated dances for support, to Prince Jerome-Napoleon, 
who had admired one of his dances, and to Morny. The Exposi- 
tion opened without a decision having been made about the 
theater, but a few days later Offenbach was authorized by the 
Ministry of the Interior to present pantomimes and musical come- 
dies. He named the theater the Bouff es-Parisiens, and prepared to 
open in three weeks. 

His usual librettists were unwilling to tackle anything new on 
such short notice. In desperation he went to his former teacher, 
Fromental Hal6vy, who sent him on to nephew Ludovic Hal6vy, 

104 Jacques Offenbach 

an attache at the Council of State. With the latter's assistance, 
Offenbach opened on July 5, 1855. The program included a 
pantomime utilizing Rossini themes, a short bit of rural charm 
called The White Nighty and a musical comedy entitled The Two 
Blind Men. Featured were two blind beggars: one a fat trombonist 
named Patachon, the other a skinny guitarist named Giraffier. 
The action consisted of a quarrel over a penny which had fallen 
to the street and cheating at cards in a game to decide which 
beggar would abandon the coveted spot on a bridge. The game 
ended when they heard the approaching step of a "customer'* 
and separated to try for him. Despite the fact that the theater 
was tiny and supremely uncomfortable, it was sold out night after 

In December, Offenbach moved the Bouffes-Parisiens to a 
larger theater on the Champs-Elys6es and received a new license 
authorizing productions with four characters. He opened with a 
new musical, Ba-Ta-Clan, which was set in the Chinese court of a 
king who had twenty-seven subjects. A parody of 

was rhsjfirst examj^o^petj^ 
political power -was a joke and court life 

was sensational, and he who had mocked grand opera and great- 
ness''^^ suddenly aspired to write a serious~worlL He knew 
himself to be as yet unready, but the goal was set. 

By 1857 Offenbach's output was staggering. In that year he 
wrote twenty operettas, five pantomimes, and several cantatas, 
while managing productions and conducting rehearsals. As his 
mastery of form increased, he was inclined to write faster ca- 
dences, and worked closely with his librettists in his desire to 
emphasize efficient, swift action. Vibrant rhythms were his mark, 
and his spicy tunes and beguiling melodies reveal his genius today 
as clearly as they did in 1857. A touch of Offenbach still remains 
the best remedy for a heavy heart. 

The same year saw his company's first tour. They played to 
packed houses in Britain, in Berlin, and in Ems, but despite great 
success Offenbach was failing financially. In his enthusiasm for 
dazzling display, he was spending too much for costumes and 
dcor. His response made possible by a new license in 1858 per- 


mitring him to produce two-act plays was to write a larger work 
in the hope of greater profits: Orpheus in Hades. Orpheus was 
written on the run with creditors in pursuit, and Offenbach was 
further tormented by an unusually slow production by his libret- 
tists. Finally completed in October of 1858, it achieved merely a 
succSs festime, and Offenbach feared it would close after eighty 

The plot suggests that Orpheus was a parody on Napoleon in 
and the court at the Tuileries: Jupiter is shown making love to 
many pretty girls in the full knowledge of his jealous wife, Juno. 
The remaining gods all imitated the example of the master. Pluto, 
hoping to escape the punishment due him for the abduction of 
Eurydice, tries to arouse the gods against Jupiter, who, wishing 
to maintain his position at any cost, announces he will lead the 
gods to Hell, and is thereupon acclaimed by them. 

The authors then introduced a character called Public Opinion 
who represents the social conventions of honor, fidelity, and faith. 
Public Opinion insists that Orpheus demand that Jupiter arrange 
the return of his beloved Eurydice. Thanks to a legal loophole, 
Jupiter forces Orpheus to renounce Eurydice and to disappear 
along with Public Opinion. The moral seems to be that the great 
and powerful can ride roughshod over Public Opinion with im- 
punity. Finally, the Olympians of the court agree to tread on 
social conventions. Bending spinelessly to Jupiter's will, they 
espouse the dissolute life and sink into drunkenness on the road 
to Hell. 

Six weeks after the opening, an article appeared in the Journal 
des d6bats by Jules Janin, who was ordinarily friendly to Offen- 
bach's gay productions. He termed Orpheus "blasphemous" in 
accusing Offenbach of profaning "holy and glorious antiquity"; 
but he saved the show by qualifying it as morally outrageous. At- 
tendance rose instantly, and Orpheus ran for 228 performances 
instead of closing after eighty. In April, 1860, the Emperor com- 
manded a special performance which, alone, netted Offenbach 
22,000 francs and a note of thanks from His Majesty for "an un- 
forgettable evening." 

To honor the success of Orpheus, Offenbach gave a costume 

106 Jacques Offenbach 

party. The invitations revealed his puckish wit. Guests were asked 
to wear historical costumes, but those wearing antediluvian cos- 
tumes would be admitted only with special reservation. Upon 
payment of five francs, guests would be entitled to be called "My 
Prince" for the evening, "Monsieur le Due" for four francs 
seventy-five, "My General" for three francs, "Dear Master" for 
two francs fifteen, and "Old Girl" for one franc. "My dear, Dear 
little girl, or other pickings for fifteen centimes, and assorted 
small terms of endearment at a just price." 

On October 20, 1858, the day before Orpheus opened, Emma 
Livry made her sensational debut and inaugurated a great period 
of French ballet. After Orpheus closed, Offenbach encouraged 
by his patron Moray, who was a friend of the ballet began work 
on a two-set ballet, Le Papillon, in which Emma Livry was to 
star. Rehearsals began at the Opera in 1860 under Offenbach's 
direction, with many of the dancers, including Emma, refusing 
to wear costumes which had been "carteronized." An imperial 
decree of November 27, 1859, had commanded that all scenery 
and costumes used at the Opera be treated with a new solution, 
invented by Carteron, which made them fireproof; but as it also 
made costumes appear stiff and soiled, the women protested in 

As a result, one of the minor subjects did catch fire during a 
rehearsal, and though she was saved Offenbach was much upset by 
what he regarded as a bad omen. And so it was. Two years 
later, during a dress rehearsal of Auber's La Muette de Portici, 
Emma Livry's skirt caught fire from a wing-light. Horribly 
burned, she agonized for four months as all Paris counted the 
days and weeks. Her death was regarded as a national calamity, 
and the funeral at Notre-Dame drew a swarm of the great and 

The passing of Emma Livry was a serious blow to French ballet. 
Its heydey began with her debut and ended in 1870, the year that 
Delibes's Coppttia was produced. After that, the great figures of 
the ballet were gone, and the rising popularity of Wagnerian 
opera put ballet under a cloud. The French ballet did not enjoy a 


renaissance until the twentieth century, when it was stimulated 
by the impact of Russian ballet. 

In the years before 1870, Wagner was more controversial than 
popular in Paris. Offenbach detested his work and, in the Carnival 
of Reviews (1860), made his sentiments known. He opened the 
skit with Wagner, surrounded by Mozart, Gluck, and Weber, 
telling them that their music was fit only for dogs. Then the 
"musician of the future" presented two examples of his best work: 
a Symphony of the Future, whose themes he enumerated loudly 
as they progressed, and the Tyrolian of the Future, which was a 
burlesque of Tyrolian songs orchestrated and roared in Wagner- 
ian fashion. 

In the following spring, the presentation of Tannhauser under 
the sponsorship of the Emperor and Princess von Metternich, the 
Austrian Ambassadress, produced a celebrated riot despite the 
support given Wagner from the crown. The gentlemen of the 
Jockey-Club, who patronized opera for its ballet (they preferred 
good legs to voices), insisted that the ballet appear in the second 
act of an opera, as their busy lives rarely permitted their arrival 
at the Opera for the first act. Wagner put the ballet of Tann- 
hauser in the first act, and for this sin the gentlemen led a 
demonstration which assured the opera's failure. The renown of 
this incident^ however, has obscured the prior failures of Wag- 
ner's works in Paris, which were achieved without benefit of the 

If the French ultimately began to see merit in Wagner, Offen- 
bach never did. Nor did Wagner approve of Offenbach. He 
wrote of Offenbach's music that it "released the odor of manure 
from where all the pigs of Europe had come to wallow," and 
only in old age did he relent to the point of comparing Offenbach 
to Mozart. 

Wagner aside, Offenbach was favorably disposed toward the 
leading composers of his day. In the case of Rossini and Meyer- 
beer, the regard was mutual, but Berlioz and Saint-Saens were 
sharply critical of Offenbach. When Offenbach read the memoirs 
of Berlioz, he made many caustic marginal notes revealing that 

io8 Jacques Offenbach 

he was stung by Beriloz's hostility, but he never deviated from 
his belief that Berlioz was the first composer of the age. In 1854, 
when the Academy saw fit to pass over Berlioz in electing Clapis- 
son, an indignant Offenbach praised Berlioz in an article in 
L? Artiste. Later, when Berlioz was elected to the Academy, Offen- 
bach wrote, "It was merited." 

After five years of outstanding music-hall successes, Offenbach 
was himself recognized as a composer of merit. In 1860, the year 
Offenbach became naturalized, the Op6ra-Comique asked him 
to produce a new work for Christmas Eve. He presented Barkouf, 
which called for a dog on stage and music which imitated the 
barking of a dog; rather impolitic for a debut at the Op6ra- 
Comique. The piece failed, and the press wrote of his "chien- 
nerie" (shamelessness). A later attempt to revive Barkouf using a 
cow instead of a dog fared no better. 

Successes were the rule, however, and not failures. Beginning" 
in 1857, he went annually to Ems. The international set adored 
his productions, and once, in a week's time, he wrote Lischm et 
Fritzchen on a bet, which used Alsatian dialect as well as French 
and German. These trips gave him opportunity to take the 'waters 
for his rheumatism and gout from which he would suffer the 
rest of his life. Offenbach was popular in Vienna, too, which 
led the Imperial Opera to commission a grand opera. Having 
always hoped to crown his career with a serious opera, Offenbach 
eagerly accepted the commission. His Rhine Fairies was presented 
in February, 1864, and the Viennese press was unanimous in 
recommending his return to operetta. All was not lost, however, 
as he later salvaged the Elfs' song from this production, renaming 
it the Barcarole. 

Offenbach's greatest success to date had been Orphevs. The 
galling failure in Vienna moved him to return to antiquity for a 
new theme: Helen of Troy. La Belle Hflene was a logical suc- 
cessor to Orpheus in that the latter was a picture of high society- 
giving itself over to frivolity and drink, while La Belle H&Zne 
suggested the resulting catastrophe. Offenbach gives us a Helen 
who has become bored with the unending gaiety and who seeks 
escape in love. Thus she becomes easy prey for her seducer: 


Paris. The Greek kings are little better than imbeciles, while the 
augur, obviously representing the clergy, is indifferent to main- 
taining even the appearance of piety. The summing up is done 
by Orestes, who strides along a Spartan boulevard, surrounded 
by women, and sings: 

With these women Orestes 
Makes papa's money dance; 
Papa laughs, however, as 
It is Greece who will pay. 

A majority of the critics again disapproved the profaning of 
the antique, but the public agreed with Henri Rochefort and 
Jules Vall&s that La Belle H6l&ne deserved applause. It enjoyed 
a long run in Paris and succeeded in Berlin and Vienna as well. 
In fact, the successful use of classical figures made Offenbach 
suspect that contemporary subjects might well fail. Thus his 
astonishment the following year (1866) when his La Vie parisi- 
enne was acclaimed. His success did not derive from locale, but 
from his mastery of the comic opera form. 

As Offenbach's fame dated from the Exposition of 1855, he 
sought to exploit the Exposition of 1867 in the hope of a greater 
triumph and needed profits. He prepared The Grand Duchess 
of Gerolstein to open coincidentally with the Exposition; a 
parody on absolute power, it also joked about war. The piece 
featured General Bourn, whose bravery was equaled by his in- 
capacity. His battle plan, presented to the Supreme War Council, 
was a compilation of the comic elements of real war, and he 
periodically fired his pistol into the air that he might take snuff 
by breathing the odor of gunpowder. His ignorance of the causes 
of the war for which he was preparing made his enthusiasm for 
the war ridiculous, but no more ridiculous than the actual cause: 
Baron Puck, councilor to the Grand Duchess, wanted a new 
distraction. Meanwhile, the Grand Duchess raised a gunner named 
Fritz to be a general, because she loved him, and then reduced 
him because he remained loyal to his Wanda. 

Napoleon III viewed the spectacle on April 24th, twelve days 
after the opening, giving the audience the double fascination of 

no Jacques Offenbach 

the farce and His Majesty's reaction to it. He was seen to laugh 
and smile, but also to wind the tips of his mustache ever the 
sign of his perplexity. Alexander II, coming for the Exposition, 
telegraphed ahead from Cologne to his ambassador in Paris to 
reserve him a seat. He had heard that the court of Gerolstein was 
a parody on the court of Russia and wished to check on it person- 
ally; but Bismarck, who saw the Grand Duchess a few days 
later, saw the locale in the petty courts of Germany, and found it 

Hortense Schneider, who played the Grand Duchess, was the 
most celebrated performer of the day. The public hailed her as 
the demolisher of all consecrated subjects, while the intelligentsia 
shuddered in agreement. Born in Bordeaux to a German immi- 
grant tailor and his French wife, Hortense descended on Paris 
in 1855 at the age of twenty-two. She was introduced to Offen- 
bach, who hired her after hearing her sing. For several years 
she was overshadowed by Lise Tautin, whom Offenbach had 
hired in Brussels. Tautin was most celebrated as Eurydice in 
Orpheus; in the second act her "Bacchus is King" and a particu- 
larly spritely cancan always brought down the house. But in the 
i85o's Hortense gained the inside track, and Lise quickly faded. 

As the beautiful Helen and the Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, 
Hortense Schneider reigned supreme, though she was impudently 
challenged for a time by the pantomimist Lea Silly, who played 
Orestes in La Belle Helene. Silly, who believed that nudity was 
the key to success on stage, dared to mimic the great Schneider's 
gestures. Audiences were delighted, but not Hortense. A quarrel 
of the most polished felinity began backstage and ended in an 
exchange of letters published by both parties in Figaro. 

Both actresses were admired by heads of state, Schneider claim- 
ing to have found Alexander II of Russia at the stage door, but 
Lea Silly often boasted of her unique patron whom she met on a 
tour of the United States. Colonel Fisk, the New York impresa- 
rio, arranged a date in Salt Lake City, where Silly's troup gave a 
command performance for Brigham Young. He was delighted, 
and wanted to convert her in the hope that she would join his 
other wives. 


Ismail, Khedive of Egypt, was a Schneider admirer. Taking 
the waters in Vichy in 1867, the Khedive longed to see her and 
gave his secretary orders to invite Schneider down for a visit. 
The secretary, who mistook the image in the Khedive's mind, 
wrote to Eugene Schneider, the armaments manufacturer, who 
supplied most of the weapons for the Egyptian Army. An 
equerry met Schneider at the train, escorted him to a private 
apartment in the Grand Hotel, which was loaded with flowers 
and perfumes, and invited him to bathe while awaiting the Khe- 
dive's arrival. There is not, alas, any record of the Khedive's 
expression upon entering the bath. 

Hortense Schneider did not limit her attentions to crowned 
heads. For a time she was mistress to the Due de Gramont- 
Caderousse, who was the unofficial leader of the Cocod&s. The 
latter, a slang expression roughly equivalent to swells, included 
nearly one hundred fast-living gentlemen, mostly of aristocratic 
origin but with a sprinkling of officers of the Guard. Their ac- 
tivities encompassed gambling, racing, dueling, and making love. 
Rich young men of the bourgeoisie were usually unable to crash 
this 61ite, but Russian aristocrats, known in particular for their 
immoderation, were always welcome. The group included Baron 
d'Auriol, Comte d'Hrisson, Prince Demidov, Due de Rivoli, 
and the Prince of Orangecalled Prince Qtron in Paris. 

The "Ogresses" were the female counterpart of the Cocod&s: 
nearly one hundred women of obscure origin who lived in a 
dazzling state of unrelieved luxury and who favored members of 
the Jockey-Club in particular. The prestige of these courtesans 
was so great that it was common, during the Second Empire, not 
only for the demi-monde to meet the haute monde socially, but 
for the latter to emulate the former. 

Among the hundred courtesans, a select few held the lime- 
light: Anna Deslions who sent the elect for the evening an ad- 
vance notice of the cost of her gown as an index for his total 
bill; Giulia Barrucci who prided herself in never refusing a mem- 
ber of an elegant club; Marguerite Bellanger who became His 
Majesty's mistress in 1863; Juliette Beau who found time to play 
in Offenbach's Daphnis et Chlot; and Cora Pearl (whose name 

ii2 Jacques Offenbach 

had been necessarily changed from Emma Crouch) who intro- 
duced the use of heavy makeup and was characterized by Prince 
Gorchakov as the last word in voluptuousness. 

As the Ogresses had little to recommend them, aside from 
their professional perfection, the society of the Second Empire 
might well have been served by better models. The story is told 
of the Ogress who refused an invitation to stroll in the Bois de 
Boulogne because she had just begun reading Kenan's Life of 
Jesus and was eager to see how the story ended. 

The outside world regarded the corrupt shenanigans of these 
few as the national tendency, but the masses of the French in- 
cluding the Republicans had little sympathy for such foolery. 
"Paris," Henri Rochefort wrote, "which has been called the 
head of France, is no more than legs." Offenbach's gaiety re- 
flected the frivolity of this "61ite," and in the confusion of causes 
and effects he was often held responsible for their frivolity. This 
was patently unjust, but if he did not create frivolity he made 
himself its parasite. As Orpheus and La Belle Htt&ne reveal, he 
knew the penalty for indifference and irresponsibility in high 
places, but his moralizing was swamped by the fantastic abun- 
dance and originality of his lighthearted themes and musical 

| The guilt for giddiness belonged not to Offenbach but to those 
whose social position ought to have dictated responsible leader- 
ship rather than self-indulgence. Occasional frivolity is not a 
crime, but perpetual frivolity is. The society which loved opfra 
bouffe too much was fatally cushioned against reality. Brilliantly 
superficial, these pleasure-mad few could take up Jupiter's cry in 
Orpheus: "Let us maintain appearances, for they alone count!" 
The diplomat Edouard Thouvenel remarked, "The success of 
Orpheus in Hades makes me doubt the future of France," with 
which the writer Maxime Du Camp agreed: "To repudiate the 
love for the beautiful, to delight in mediocrity, to seek out the 
amusing at any price is to take a path from whence there is no 

Offenbach's good fortune rapidly faded after 1867, his domi- 
nance in opera bouffe dating between the two Expositions. Some 


critics have theorized that Offenbach's decline was wrought by 
the increasingly serious international situation which made fri- 
volity unseemly; another suggests that Offenbach was outmoded 
by die swing toward Liberal Empire; that is, that facing the 
"realities of democracy" finished the "sense of unreality" charac- 
teristic of the Second Empire. Such notions are incorrect be- 
cause they do not account for the new successes of Herv6 and 
Lecocq which began in 1868. 

Offenbach had been working at a furious pace for many years. 
By 1868 new ideas were coming hard, and the continual en- 
croachment of rheumatism made him peevish. Thus, working 
with him to perfect productions became increasingly difficult 
as the quality of the raw material declined. 

The outbreak of war in 1870 found Offenbach taking the 
waters at Ems. He left immediately for Etretat. As the war went 
unfavorably for France, Offenbach grew increasingly nervous 
about Prussian accusations that he had written anti-German 
songs which was untrue. But he had, in 1862, written a hymn 
entitled "God Save the Emperor," so that, after the Empire's 
fall, he feared the French more than the Prussians. Deciding on a 
temporary exile as in 1848, he sent his family to San Sebastian 
and divided his time between Spain and Italy. His suffering was 
twofold: he regretted his Prussian birth and the collapse of his 
reputation in Paris. Imagine his humiliation when the returning 
Prussian troops were honored with a production of La Vie 
parisienne in Berlin! 

In 1871 Offenbach went to Vienna for the production of his 
Les Brigands, and in August he ventured into Paris to direct its 
performance. He found himself unwelcome; simultaneously he 
was accused of being an unwitting agent of Bismarck's success 
(diverting the public's attention from reality) and an ardent 
Bonapartist. It was true, of course, that he had been raised to 
the Legion of Honor in 1861 and thus was compromised in the 
eyes of many Republicans. 

Politics alone, however, cannot be blamed for Offenbach's 
decline. He had lost his genius for lively tunes, and his wit seemed 
dulled. Le Roi Carotte (King Carrot) succeeded in 1872 only 

ii4 Jacques Offenbach 

because it was a spectacle, and his Fantasio failed miserably, as 
did Le Corsaire noir in Vienna. Recognizing that he was finished 
if he did not either produce spectacles featuring nudity or raise 
operetta to the level of true light opera in the style of Lecocq, 
Offenbach chose the former. He exhumed Orpheus in Hades, 
reworked it to remove the satire, and presented in February, 1873, 
"an exhibition of legs and decor." It was successful. 

He then turned to the alternative: the light opera. He wrote 
La Jolie Parfzimeuse (The Pretty Perfumer), which had over two 
hundred performances beginning in late 1873. Certain that he 
had regained his magic touch, he sank 360,000 francs into the 
production of La Haine (The Grudge). Utter failure left him 
with a staggering debt. Worse, new names had obscured his. By 
1875 Wagner was growing in popularity, Strauss enjoyed sensa- 
tional success in Paris, and Bizet had just presented his opera 

An offer to conduct at the Philadelphia Exposition seemed to 
be his salvation, and in the hope of great profits he sailed for 
New York in August, 1876. Enthusiastically received in New 
York, where he produced open-air concerts, Offenbach went on 
to a triumph in Philadelphia, but when it came time to sail for 
home (July of 1877) he was depressed by the knowledge that 
France was safely Republican. 

All his professional life Offenbach had been ambitious to write 
a grand opera, but his Viennese fiasco in 1864 suggested that 
the dream would be unfulfilled. Yet, in 1877, he began work 
on another opera, because he felt the approach of death; it would 
be a fantastic opera in memory of his own fantastic life: The 
Tales of Hoffmann. The producers all were shy, remembering 
the financial losses from La Haine, but in the meantime a military 
operetta called La Fille du tambour-major (The Daughter of the 
Regiment) scored an unexpected success in 1879-1880. 

Offenbach's infirmity increased. On the morning of October 4, 
1880, sitting in bed with the manuscript of The Tales of Hoff- 
mann before him, he suffered a heart attack which he was confi- 
dent would be fatal. Death came the following morning to de- 
prive him of the happiness of seeing his dream opera produced. 


The Tales of Hoffmann opened on the following February 
loth at the Op6ra-Comique and won rousing applause. A similar 
success was achieved in Vienna, but on the second night just 
before curtain time the Ringtheater burned down, which gave 
rise to a superstitious fear of the opera. In consequence, many 
theaters have refused to produce it. More than Offenbach could 
have known, he had fashioned a fitting memorial: a fantastic 
story, vivacious music, a brilliant setting all overshadowed by 
death and fear. 



Criticism is a profession which requires 
healthiness more than genius. 



JCroin the start, Sainte-Beuve's life was a series of unsatisfactory 
relationships with women. Born on December 23, 1804, in Bou- 
logne to parents who had married late, Charles-Augustin Sainte- 
Beuve was reared in the company of two staid, humorless widows. 
Mme. Sainte-Beuve had lost her husband two months before the 
birth of her child and was immediately joined by her widowed 
sister. The deceased father had been a civil servant with a fond- 
ness for Greek and Latin, but his widow had no literary interests. 

Their home knew no kughter or gaiety; and to the loneliness 
of living with elderly women was added die loneliness of being a 
precocious child The boy was studious by nature and did well 
in the local primary school. Furthermore, he imposed upon him- 
self long evening and morning prayers, which became increas- 
ingly intense as he became aware of sensual pleasures. He did 
not understand such pleasures, and they alarmed him. That he 
remained in good physical health under such a regime probably 
derived from his fondness for the beach and for swimming in 
the sea. 

At the age of thirteen, this boy, who had already been aroused 
by Latin poetry, was sent to die Lyc6e Charlemagne in Paris. 
Here the influence of Frangois Daunou, a former member of the 
Convention and an atheist, was paramount, and Sainte-Beuve 
became attached to the republican principles of the French Revo- 
lution and to atheism. The teaching of Lamarck made its impres- 
sion too, cultivating an interest in science strong enough to com- 
pete with Sainte-Beuve's interest in literature. In choosing a pro- 
fession, he was torn between law and medicine, veering toward 
the latter ultimately because it contributed more to relieve human 

The sensitivity which directed Sainte-Beuve into medicine is 


also revealed in his adolescent writings. At sixteen he observed 
that for the person of live imagination, who may sense himself 
touched with genius, the "most terrible period of life" is that 
between childhood and adulthood. 

Medicine, however, never satisfied Sainte-Beuve, and his earlier 
interest in literature returned. He sought out a former teacher, 
Paul Frangois Dubois, for advice. Dubois had been dismissed from 
the Universit6 for his liberal opinions and had founded a journal 
called Le Globe. He hired Sainte-Beuve as a writer, but urged 
him to continue his medical studies. Sainte-Beuve always credited 
his medical training for giving him a taste for precision and ma- 
terial reality; presumably, he also became more anticlerical in 
this period, thanks to the increased interference by the clergy 
in educational questions during the Restoration, which angered 
the medical profession in particular. 

Dubois, meanwhile, set Sainte-Beuve to following the daily 
progress of the Greek Revolution. Le Globe was a literary jour- 
nal, and political reporting was forbidden it by law. Thus, Sainte- 
Beuve was cautioned to write only of Greek geography and 
literature, but the experience was useful in developing his style 
and tone. His tastes were soon evident: liberalism, moderation, 
tolerance, and propriety. 

Next, Dubois gave Sainte-Beuve two volumes of Victor Hugo 
to review, the Odes and Ballades, and the two reviews appeared 
in January, 1827. The poet was then twenty-five, the critic 
twenty-two. He congratulated Hugo on his versification and 
style, noting that the lines were always grammatically correct, 
and suggested that Hugo was a poet of enormous talent. He 
warned Hugo, however, against the excessive use of imagination 
against the fantastic: "In poetry, as elsewhere, nothing is so 
risky as power. If uncontrolled, power is abusive, and what was 
once original and novel becomes bizarre." 

The reviews were significant, too, in that they encouraged 
Hugo to proceed with his divorce from the Christian Romanti- 
cism of Chateaubriand. The latter had become a Christian during 
the troubled times of the French Revolution, when he had suf- 
fered great privation. He came to believe in a religion of the heart, 


and upheld emotional conviction against the Rationalism and 
irreligion of the eighteenth century, which he regarded as re- 
sponsible for the chaos of his time. These notions were expressed 
in his Genie du Christianisme (1802), along with his faith that 
Christianity was compatible with the science of modern civiliza- 
tion. As he favored constitutional monarchy too, Chateaubriand's 
political and religious ideas were regarded as orthodox by the 
government of Louis XVIII, and both Hugo and Lamartine had 
begun to write with these orthodox Restoration views. 

In 182?! then T the materialistic, republican SaiVf-TW* urged 
HuggjSL-scpnrntc himself from royaLpolitieL and Christianity 
and to become a trulv independent poet. In f aca^hath Hugo~aad 
Lamarrine did veer awa^from Restoration orthnHnvy fry Z 8^ . 
and, by becoming more independent, thfiyj^ficamsjmore Roman- 
tic. Hugo was grateful for the penetrating criticism given his 
poetry in Le Globe and came to thank Dubois. In this way he met 
Sainte-Beuve; they became great friends. 

Shortly after, when Hugo moved to 1 1 rue Notre-Dame-des- 
Champs, Sainte-Beuve moved into number 19. As neighbors, they 
became the center of a literary circle, providing Sainte-Beuve 
with a social life which he had never known. Delacroix, M6rim6e, 
Dumas, De Vigny, Lamartine, and De Musset were often present,' 
but Sainte-Beuve was happiest when he could discuss poetry 
with Hugo alone. Hugo would chat about his verse construc- 
tion, his rhythm, about which Sainte-Beuve wrote: "I quickly 
grasped new things which I heard for the first time and which, 
in an instant, opened a window for me on style and the composi- 
tion of verse." He showed Sainte-Beuve poems no one else had 
yet seen, because he felt that Sainte-Beuve had a true poetic sense, 
revealed more in his conversation than in his reviews. 

Theirs was a profitable friendship from which Sainte-Beuve 
derived encouragement, while Hugo basked in the admiration 
of the young critic whose obvious talent made his admiration 
flattering. Paradoxically, Hugo began his retreat from Chateau- 
briand's Christianity at this time, spurred on by Sainte-Beuve, 
who himself was feeling a growing dissatisfaction with material- 


Hugo's drama Hernani was first performed in 1830 at the 
Th6atre-Franais. The story and setting emphasized the bizarre 
at the expense of historical and psychological truth, but in its 
individualism the drama was vivid and poetic. The author's Ro- 
manticist friends came to the opening dressed in fantastic cos- 
tumes to celebrate their victory over the "bourgeois," though 
the fisticuffs which enriched the intermissions during the evening 
suggested that their victory bulletins had been premature. The 
occasion was, nevertheless, memorable, and the Romanticists 
proved their vigor if nothing else. 

The castigation of the "bourgeois," so frequent by the artists 
and the intelligentsia of the nineteenth century, can be misleading 
if the word bwzgeais~\s merely translated as meaning "middle 
class." They understpodjteargegfc to mean a spirit an attitude 
rather than a class; they despised tliose who were acqynsmra 
and who regarded disinterestedness as obvious folly. Acquisitive- 
ness was an apparent characteristic of businessmen, it is true, 
but to suppose that they were the sole repositories of greed was 
to ignore a notoriously tight-fisted peasantry and the voung 
aristocrat's traditional preference for a moneyed fianc6e/Jidoe 
to thejimn^ foer^ w^ |frf> nrariw. pfirFATl' c mtnfflT .aversion to 


Sainte-Beuve fought against the bourgeois at the Battle of 
Hernani too, but not with the zeal of Ids fellow Romanticists. 
Several days after, he told Hugo that he had decided not to re- 
view Hernani in the Revue de Paris, whose staff he had recently 
joined, though he admitted that Hernani was a wonderful drama. 
He begged off by claiming to be unable to account for why it 
was wonderful. This was not the last time that Sainte-Beuve 
sacrificed his role of honest critic to personal pique. 

He had fallen in love with Madame Hugo Ad&Ie and suf- 
fered from the torment that his love was unrequited. His annoy- 
ance grew as the Hugo home was crowded with an enthusiastic 
horde of Bohemians, and he saw his beloved subjected to their 
uninhibited manners. The landlord soon put an end to the in- 
vasion by threatening to evict the Hugos, sparing Sainte-Beuve 

122 Sainte-Beuve 

the necessity of fleeing the neighborhood. His unhappiness af- 
fected the Hugos, who did not understand its cause, but who 
were fond of him. "I am not hated," Sainte-Beuve admitted to 
another friend, "but my trouble and my crime are not being 
loved as I should like to be." 

In a highly emotional state, Sainte-Beuve grew impertinent one 
day at Le Globe and was slapped with a glove by Dubois. A 
harmless duel in a rainstorm followed with Sainte-Beuve firing 
from beneath an umbrella. Subsequently, he confessed his prob- 
lem to Hugo, who treated the whole matter with dignity. Hugo 
insisted that their friendship could continue, though he proposed 
to defend the integrity of his household by not permitting Sainte- 
Beuve to enter. The latter showed himself to be unreasonable 
and never forgave Hugo, continuing to covet his neighbor's wife. 

Sainte-Beuve was aware that he was not physically attractive, 
perhaps accounting for the publicity he gave the affair. He main- 
tained, after the break in 1831, that she had not been "unaware'* 
of him. And, indeed, when Hugo took a mistress the following 
year (Juliette Drouet), Adele began a liaison with Sainte-Beuve 
which lasted until 1836; and she continued to be his friend after 
that: his sole success in love. 

During the years of their close friendship, however, Hugo did 
inflate Sainte-Beuve's desire to become a poet by assuring him 
that he could easily equal Lamartine. Sainte-Beuve's first volume 
(1828) was criticism, A Description of French Poetry in the 
Sixteenth Century, but the following year he published his first 
book of poems under the tide The Life, Poems, and Thought of 
Joseph Delorme. That the work was Sainte-Beuve's, and not the 
recently deceased Delonne's, was generally known. In it, he 
advocated poetic freedom, meaning a careful avoidance of imita- 
ting masters. The volume also contained Sainte-Beuve's definition 
of the critical spirit, written when he was twenty-five years old: 

It is the nature of the critical spirit to be quick, suggestive, versa- 
tile, and comprehensive. The critical spirit is like a large, dear stream, 
which winds and spreads out around the works and monuments of 
poetry as around the boulders, castles, vineyard-coated hills, and the 
luxuriant valleys which border its banks. While each one of these 


rural objects remains fixed in its place, undisturbed by its neighbors 
the feudal tower indifferent to the vale and the vale unaware of 
the hills the river flows from one to the other, bathes them without 
injuring them, encircles them with fresh running water, understands 
them, reflects them; and when the traveller is curious to know and to 
visit these varied places, it takes him in a small boat, carries him with- 
out jolts, and develops for him in an orderly fashion the sights as they 
change on course. 

He published a second volume of verse in 1830, Consolations, 
which showed despite Sainte-Beuve's advocacy of independ- 
ence the influence of the Lake poets, Wordsworth and Cole- 
ridge in particular. And, in turn, Sainte-Beuve's sensualism and 
his taste for the English poets influenced subsequent French 
poetry, especially that of Copp6e, Verlaine, and Baudelaire. Evi- 
dence of Sainte-Beuve's religious anxiety can be found in Conso- 
lations. His materialism left him unsatisfied; he wanted to believe, 
to know God: 

Pour arriver a Toi, c'est assez de vouloir, 

Je voudrais bien, Seigneur; je veux; pourquoi ne puis-je? 

Meanwhile, Sainte-Beuve was making his reputation as a critic, 
and during the July Monarchy his articles began appearing in the 
Revue des deux He was also known to be spiteful, lust- 
ful, and particularly interested in the lives of women. Meeting 
George Sand in 1833 after favorably reviewing her novel Indiana, 
he became her literary adviser for a time. She gave him parts of 
Lttia to read, the novel in which she confessed her physical im- 
potence; Sainte-Beuve was not only impressed by the insight 
and the courage of the author, but understood that she probably 
hoped to develop a liaison with him. Despite his reputation, he 
shrank from such a relationship with her. Sand had recently 
suffered a miserable sexual fiasco with Prosper Mrim6e, the 
details of which had regaled the literary world. Few men could 
have been expected to be eager for a liaison whose intimacies 
might become the next sensation for the literati. 

The literary portraits which Sainte-Beuve began publishing 
in the Revue des deux mondes in 1832 did not prevent him from 

124 Sainte-Beuve 

also working on a novel VoluptS, his only novel, appeared in 
1834. Lacking action and imagination, the book was long on 
moral discussions and boring orations. Sainte-Beuve learned 
from writing it that he was too scholarly to find the novel a 
congenial form. 

The plot of Volupte centered on an analysis of the passion for 
vice. A priest, torn by carnal desire, fell in love with a married 
woman (Sainte-Beuve and Mme. Hugo?). After great anguish, 
the priest confessed his passion to the woman's husband, who 
(unlike Hugo) regarded the situation as quite normal and urged 
the priest to join their household. Ultimately, the husband and 
wife lost their only son, which had the effect of drawing them 
together and forced the departure of the erring priest. In the 
end, the dying woman requested that her former lover perform 
the last rites. Sainte-Beuve's moral seems to be that a man cannot 
separate his life into two parts; the life of the heart and the life 
of the mind must become reconciled. Otherwise, one's will is 
destroyed and the intelligence squandered. 

While Sainte-Beuve's search for spiritual satisfaction was not 
apparent in Voluptt, this period of his life was characterized 
by his search for religion to replace the materialism of his medi- 
cal-school days. As early as 1828, he grew interested in La Men- 
nais's Liberal Catholicism, because of its attacks upon legitimate 
monarchy. When La Mennais and his disciples convened at the 
Oratorian College of Juilly (1830-1831), Sainte-Beuve often 
joined the group and was moved by their spirituality; but he 
remained an observer and was not a convert. Sainte-Beuve's later 
influence upon La Mennais is questionable, but it is generally 
agreed that he urged La Mennais to stand firm against the con- 
servatism of Rome and, in 1836, arranged for the publication of 
La Mennais's article "Les Affaires de Rome," which made a rec- 
onciliation between La Mennais and the Papacy impossible. 

Sainte-Beuve also investigated Saint-Simonianism, called the 
**new Christianity" by the founders of the cult. Saint-Simordan- 
jsm was jrtopian socialism. The cult was organized shortly after 
^he death of Saint-Simon in 1825, a humanitarian and material- 
istic religion. By 1830 Sainte-Beuve often attended their meet- 


ings, and Holy Father Enfantin, one of the two Saint-Simonian 
popes, regarded Sainte-Beuve as a probable convert. No doubt 
Sainte-Beuve was attracted by a cult which classed artists and 
writers among the useful (productive) members of society; but, 
like so many other members of the intelligentsia who were favor- 
able to the humanitarian and materialistic ideals of the cult, 
Sainte-Beuve was repelled by the ludicrous ritual with which the 
cultists hoped to impress the world. And paeans to industrial 
production, sung in the style of Christian hymns, aroused more 
hilarity than piety. Nevertheless, Sainte-Beuve later avowed that 
Enfantin had taught him to honor and respect Industry, that 
art could and ought to be useful and, in consequence, that literary 
criticism could be construed to be beneficial for society to be a 
means for perfecting society. 

Saint-Simonianism, however, did not teach Sainte-Beuve to 
love life ("Sick you found me, and sick you left me"), and he 
looked still further for a satisfactory religion. Perhaps it was 
his anger at Rome's treatment of La Mennais that made him turn 
next to Jansenism. He proposed to study the history of Jansenism, 
and appKecT to the government for a post at the Ecole normale 
in the hope of subsidizing his research by teaching; but he -was 
informed that he must produce the book before an appointment 
could be made. 

He went to Switzerland, then, in 1837, wM* his book merely 
in outline, and with the aid of friends secured a teaching position 
in Lausanne. He thus developed the structure of the book by pre- 
paring eighty-one lectures, which were delivered over a seven- 
month period. His additional public lectures were popular, be- 
cause such problems as predestination and grace commanded 
interest in this region that had known much theological contro- 
versy; but Sainte-Beuve was far less successful in the classroom. 
His inexperience and austerity were serious barriers for younger 

The published results of his study of Jansenism were slow in 
coming. The first volume appeared in 1840, the last in 1850. He 
entitled the work Port-Royal. The study of Jansenism impressed 
Sainte-Beuve with the moral excellence of Christianity, but as a 

126 Sainte-Beuve 

Romantic, an individualist, he recoiled from the Jansenist belief 
in predestination, failing again to find his faith, and fort-Royal 
ended in a pessimistic key: 

How limited is our vision; how quickly it becomes fixed! It re- 
sembles a pale star which ignites for a moment in the midst of an im- 
mense night. He who has taken the learning of his subject most to 
heart, who gave the most effort to comprehend it and felt the most 
pride in depicting it, feels himself powerless and beneath his task 
and . . . perceives that [his learning] is only the most fleeting of il- 
lusions in the heart of infinite illusion. 

The first volume of Port-Royal helped Sainte-Beuve secure 
the head librarianship of the Bibliotheque Mazarine, which gave 
him an income independent from his newspaper articles. The 
book's success, in fact, led him to hope for election to the Acad6- 
mie frangaise, a hope which Hugo's election in 1841 only height- 
ened. Sainte-Beuve presented himself as a candidate in 1843, but 
received only seventeen of the necessary eighteen votes Hugo 
not supporting him. In the following year he was a successful 
candidate, and his reception took place on February 25, 1845. It: 
fell to Hugo to receive him. 

Newly elected academicians were always presented to the 
king, and while Sainte-Beuve counted himself a Republican he 
agreed to the presentation. This ceremony was his sole appearance 
at the Tuileries during the July Monarchy. He had, in fact, no 
particular grievance against Louis-Philippe, but regarded him as 
insufficiently royal to be a king and too bourgeois to be respected 
long by the bourgeois. Sfliptfr-Pteiwp'Q failnrp t-n %d a satisfactory 
religious faith Jed. him into._skepticism, which left him increas- 
ingbf'ihdifferent to political dogmatism and less vigorous in at- 
tacking political institutions. 

Nevertheless, he had never publicly disavowed his republican- 
ism and was, therefore, outraged to be badly treated by the Re- 
public of 1848. The revolutionary government of that year care- 
fully examined the financial records of the previous r6gime, and 
Sainte-Beuve's was among the names claimed to have been the 
beneficiaries of Louis-Philippe's largesse. He protested in vain. 


Unable to clear his name, he resigned from the Mazarine and ac- 
cepted a professorship of French literature at Lige. The French 
republican press hooted his departure as if he were fleeing the 

The situation ultimately became somewhat clearer when the 
financial records in question were published. In 1847 Sainte- 
Beuve had paid one hundred francs to have the fireplace in his 
room at the Acad&nie repaired. The government recompensed 
him, but as the sum was acknowledged too late by the govern- 
ment to be included in that year's regular budget it was paid out 
of a secret fund. The bureaucrat examining these lists either 
thought the evidence suggested that Sainte-Beuve had received 
much more than the hundred francs or (as Sainte-Beuve believed) 
was an embittered author whose work had not fared well at the 
critic's hands. 

The death of Chateaubriand on July 4, 1848, followed by that 
of his long-time friend Mme. Rcamier ten months later, 
prompted Sainte-Beuve to begin a critical study of Chateau- 
briand. Ever since beginning the work on Port-Royal, Sainte- 
Beuve in abandoning the poetic for the historical had sought 
to reexamine his earlier judgments. Formerly, as a Republican 
and a materialist, Sainte-Beuve had -advised Httgo-to abandon 
Chateaubriand's CM!iif ? *iflTi-Royflli grn ; jp 1849 he recognized Cha- 
teaubriand's influence on nineteenth century writers: "We are 
your sons, and our glory is to be called one of yours." 

But Sainte-Beuve, so long the unsuccessful seeker after religious 
truth, refused to believe that Chateaubriand was a convinced 
Christian. "M. de Chateaubriand," he wrote, 'Vas only a great 
actor in search like all great actors of a place to deploy his 
talent." He claimed that Chateaubriand was always ready to 
sacrifice truth to beauty, and had found Christianity an emotional, 
beautiful realm. As further evidence of Chateaubriand's dishon- 
esty, he recalled Chateaubriand's abandonment of Charles X as 
opportunism. Such a judgment had an insincere ring, coming 
from a man who would shortly convert his Republicanism into 
Bonapartism. And what better description of Sainte-Beuve's own 
relation to Christianity than his analysis of Chateaubriand's? 

128 Sainte-Beuve 

Once Sainte-Beuve's year's appointment was completed in 
Liege, he gladly returned to France, for he had not been well 
received in Belgium. On October i, 1849, he joined his fourth 
newspaper staff, Le Constitutionnel, when its publisher, Dr. 
Vron, offered him a weekly literary column. Thus was born the 
Causeries du Lundi (the Monday Reviews) for which Sainte- 
Beuve is best known. Earlier, Sainte-Beuve had held that the 
literary critic is inferior in quality to the poet and the novelist; 
ultimately he came to believe that literature's object is to know 
mankind better and that no one literary form is a superior key to 
this knowledge. Earlier, he had hoped to be remembered as a poet 
and a novelist; now he maintained that the choice of history, 
drama, the novel, or criticism was unimportant. 

His critical method had taken definite form by 1849: he 
claimed never to separate the man from his literary work. This 
fondness for pyschological analysis Sainte-Beuve had already 
revealed in his Literary Portraits, published in the Revue des deux 
mondes between 1832 and 1839, and in his Portraits of Women, 
which appeared in 1844. * n approaching an author's work, he 
studied die man's family, his children, his friends, the region from 
which he came. What did he think of religion? How was he 
affected by nature? By women? By money? Was he rich or poor, 
and what was his daily r6gime? In the case of a woman writer, 
was she pretty? Was she loved? And if she had been converted 
in religion, why? 

Sainte-Beuve knew, of course, that such extensive personal 
information was unavailable in studying many writers of the 
past. He also knew that some critics judged literature esthetically 
and were indifferent to men and morality. But Sainte-Beuve, 
while not indifferent to esthetics, was eager to develop criticism 
into a science and, hence, his fascination for a method which, 
in gathering evidence from which one derived conclusions, 
seemed scientific. 

In the course of my observations, I have sensed that the day will 
come when Science will be so organized that the great families of 
minds and their principal divisions will be recognized and known. 
Then, the chief characteristic of a mind being known, one will be able 
to deduce other characteristics from that. 


In the hands of a lesser critic, Sainte-Beuve's method could 
become little more than a statistical report of an author's life, 
with the literary work itself valued merely as evidence of the 
author's mind and nature. Sainte-Beuve's genius lay in his ability 
to keep order: the details of a writer's life, or the portrait itself, 
were never allowed to take precedence from the piece of litera- 
ture he was reviewing. Furthermore, while he might insist that 
all literary works have historical interest and importance, his 
own definition of a classic revealed his belief in the timeless qual- 
ity of great art and in the fact that great works must live inde- 
pendently from their authors: 

A true classic, as I should like to hear it defined, is an author who 
has enriched the human mind, increased its treasure, and caused it to 
advance a step; who has discovered some moral and unequivocal 
truth, or who revealed some eternal passion in that heart where all 
seemed known and discovered; who has expressed his thought, obser- 
vation, or invention in any form, providing it be broad and great, re- 
fined and sensible, sane and beautiful in itself; who had spoken to 
everyone in his individual style, a style which is found to be also uni- 
versal, a style which is new without being neologistic simultaneously 
new and old easily contemporary with all time. 

Called "Uncle Beuve" by the literati of the day, Sajntejgfeuve 
seemedto preside over the literature of the SecondJEmpife. His 
spanned three r6gimes, but his authority seemed conse- 
crated with the coming of Empire. In general, the writers of 
the period were in reaction against Romanticism, at least against 
the imaginative and dramatic aspects of Romanticism. Calling 
themselves Realists, they retained the individualism of the Ro- 
manticists in refusing to adhere to any esthetic orthodoxy; but 
their art became documentary, scientific, and impersonal. Most 
Realists saw life as harsh and mankind as weak, and in dwelling 
upon the seamy, more materialistic, aspects of life they rejected 
any notion of an otherwordly ideal. In a sense, Realism was Ro- 
manticism secularized one more step; in fact, realism in any age 
is a likely companion to loss of faith. 

Sainte-Beuve, who had often criticized the Romanticists for 
their love of the bizarr< 

130 Sainte-Beuve 

ference to the factual, seemed to encourage Realism. Yet he never 
disavowed his own Romanticism and, as if to make his case more 
complex, often seemed in search of absolute truth. Perhaps he 
was a Romantic who longed not to be. He was not, as a rule, 
unfair to the Romanticists, his war with Balzac, for instance, 
being the result of personal rather than literary animosity. Or 
in the case of Hugo, whom he had come to regard as a "barbarian 
king/' he refrained from an attack in deference to Mme. Hugo. 

Sainte-Beuve's literary dilemma was evident in his treatment 
of Flaubert's work. Before writing Madame Bovary, Flaubert had 
toured the Levant. The sight of other peoples and customs merely 
confirmed his suspicion that villainy and baseness were the only 
dependable universal characteristics of mankind. Never again 
could he regard himself as the unique victim of injustice or mis- 
fortune, so that, in a sense, he found his own salvation in the 
universality of misery. He could not withdraw from this misery, 
then, but explored and probed it. "Son and brother of distin- 
guished physicians," wrote Sainte-Beuve in his review of Madame 
Bovary, "M. Gustave Flaubert holds the pen as others the scal- 

Sainte-Beuve objected to Flaubert's opinion that truth was 
only to be found on humanity's foolish or perverse side, but 
recognized that Flaubert's spirit reflected the literary vogue 
of the time. Flaubert, like the Goncourt brothers, was sincere 
and bold. The eagerness to capture reality meant an unwilling- 
ness to avoid any words or vulgarity which might shock more 
conventional souls. Noting that the Realists were unafraid of 
crudity, Sainte-Beuve asked, "But are you not looking for it?" 
He accused them of deliberately ignoring any aspects of life 
which might modify the brutal picture they presented, and sug- 
gested that they went out of their way to insult convention. 
Sainte-Beuve's Saint-Simonian tendencies were never more evi- 
dent than in his warning to the Realists that it was not enough 
merely to record the vulgar and the vicious; the artist, he wrote, 
must offer an ideal, which is not reality perhaps, but which will 
at least be practical. 

Sainte-Beuve recognized, however, the technical excellence 
of Madame Bovary and ranked Flaubert with the best writers of 


the day; but this praise was overshadowed by his criticism of 
Flaubert's vulgarity, because Flaubert was already under attack 
for "offending public morality and religion." The government 
made the charge, and Flaubert and his editors had to face it in 

Madame Bovary first appeared in installments in the Revue de 
Paris, a journal generally unfriendly to the government and re- 
garded as socialistic. Knowing their vulnerability, the editors 
had been uncertain as to the wisdom of publishing a book whose 
frankness was sure to provoke the mandarins of morality. The 
government was not slow to take advantage of the outcry to smite 
die hostile journal, and the Empress in particular was solicitous 
to see that the trial was not postponed. Among others, Morny 
protested that this was shortsighted policy; that the government 
ought to be courting writers rather than hauling them into court. 
Flaubert defended himself skillfully. Believing that everything 
which existed was true and therefore good, he suggested that 
the society which attacked him for printing what actually existed 
was in an immoral position. The captive court obediently cen- 
sured the book, but salved its conscience by noting the literary 
excellence of the work and by acquitting the defendants. The 
trial, of course, gave the book notoriety and sale. 

Sainte-Beuve and Flaubert had not always been friendly, Flau- 
bert having been known to express his hatred for Sainte-Beuve, 
but the latter received Madame Bovary well enough to reconcile 
the two. Even Sainte-Beuve's denunciation of Salammb6 9 which 
appeared in 1862, failed to alienate them, though causing momen- 
tary hard feelings. Again, Sainte-Beuve accused Flaubert of en- 
larging upon the lugubrious and atrocious side of human nature; 
but, unlike Madame Bovary, which was saved by the magnifi- 
cence of its realism, Salammbd struck the critic as operatic. He 
did not deny that Flaubert had achieved effects, but styled them 
sadistic and bloody, revealing "a bizarre sensuality." In effect, 
Sainte-Beuve attacked Salammbd as simply not good Realism, 
and he likened the Carthaginian settingdespite Flaubert's at- 
tempts to achieve historical accuracy to the imaginative set- 
tings favored by the earlier Romanticists. 
Sainte-Beuve's evaluation of Flaubert was better grounded 

132 Sainte-Beuve 

than his estimate and treatment of Baudelaire. The latter's Fleurs 
du Tnal was published in 1857 in the Revue des deux mondes, 
an organ of Orleanist opinion, only six months after Flaubert's 
session in court. Baudelaire, too, was shortly in court for offend- 
ing the public morality, but regarded his prosecution as good for- 
tune as good advertisement. The prosecution was mild, and 
while the court undertook to snip a few verses from the volume 
and fined Baudelaire and his publishers, the proceedings had a 
shabby aura and the revised edition a large sale. 

By remaining silent throughout the trial, Sainte-Beuve dis- 
graced himself in the eyes of the intelligentsia. He knew that 
Baudelaire revered him, that Baudelaire often acknowledged the 
influence of Sainte-Beuve's early poems upon his own, and they 
called each other "dear friend." Possibly Sainte-Beuve recognized 
Baudelaire's talent without understanding it and, therefore, sought 
a noncommittal position on Baudelaire. In 1862, for example, 
when Baudelaire stood for the Acad6mie franfaise, Sainte-Beuve 
published an article discussing the qualifications of the various 
candidates. Describing Baudelaire as the builder of ingenious 
poetic "follies," Sainte-Beuve hinted that perhaps Baudelaire's 
candidacy was intended as a joke upon the Acad6mie. His further 
description of Baudelaire as conventional and polite a pleasant 
person damned him with irrelevant praise. 

The two writers of the period most respected by Sainte-Beuve 
were Hippolyte Taine and Ernest Renan. He objected to Taine's 
rigid enviromnentalism, as a Romanticist logically would, but 
admired Taine as a stylist. As for Renan, Sainte-Beuve wrote, 
"He has an aristocratic intelligence, royal in the sense of Plato." 
Sainte-Beuve did not recommend Renan's Life of Jesus for the 
general reader, but urged it upon those alone who had a critical 
spirit; he thought the book should inculcate a respect for religion. 
In a subsequent article several months kter (1863), he admitted 
his disagreement with Renan on the divinity of Christ, main-, 
taining that Christ was obviously not human. But in suggesting 
that several of Renan's assertions were too bold, Sainte-Beuve did 
not waver in his admiration for the book. 

Sainte-Beuve's relations with the leading writers of the Second 


Empire were certainly affected by hisjEgfidp-fldhcrcncc to Na- 
poleon IIPs fggittie, qu6tionaDie in^parricular because of his 
long-time RepuBlican and anticlerical politics. Yet, having suf- 
fered serious insult from the Republic of 1848, Sainte-Beuve 
had lost his faith in republicanism, and he was quick to say, in 
1851, that France needed security after three years of "expedi- 
ents." In addition, his loss of political faith was probably con- 
ditioned by his inability to find a satisfactory religious faith. 

By the time of the Second Empire, Sainte-Beuve had become a 
skeptic, and the numerous times he touched on Montaigne in 
the Cameries du Lundi suggests that he felt an affinity with the 
most celebrated of all French skeptics. He was doubtful about the 
possibility of reaching absolute truth, about the limits of human 
intelligence, and about the superiority of any one form of gov- 
ernment. Though he had great respect for Christianity, he was 
haunted by the materialism of his youth. He remained loyal to 
the Empire for the rest of his life, but only because he thought 
that Empire was the governmental form most likely to maintain 
order in France and that order was necessary for the development 
of civilization, "as savagery is always present two steps away." 

In an era when politics and religion were intertwined and 
writers were notably dogmatic in their political and religious 
views, Sainte-Beuve's skepticism was inevitably regarded as op- 
portunism. That he rallied to a r6gime which was abhorred by the 
literati was taken as conclusive proof of his opportunism, 

Sainte-Beuve's articles, during the Second Empire, not only 
appeared in Le Constitutionnel, with which he had affiliated him- 
self in 1849, b ut ^ *k e Moniteur, the government's official journal. 
This attachment lent support to the charge of opportunism. In 
addition, he wrote for the Revue des deux mondes again between 
1863 and 1868. But if one recalls that Sainte-Beuve had been 
profoundly influenced by the materialistic hnmflrnfflrianisrn of 
the Saint-Simonians, then his support of Louis-Napoleon, who 
was the darling of the Saint-Simonians and whom Sainte-Beuve 
called "Saint-Simon on Horseback," seems understandable. 

In 1852 he wrote an article called "Regrets," whose tone 
smacked of opportunism and which illustrated his spitefulness. 


The article was a salut d&risoire to the Orleanists whose hopes 
for a restoration had been shattered by the coup d'frat. He 
mocked the vexation of these men who had ruled France for 
eighteen years and laughed loudest about the censorship which 
deprived the Orleanists of publicity. "There are worse maladies 
than the loss of speech; and no misfortune is less touching than 
those which come to the ambitious and to fallen governments." 
In such bad taste were these lines that Sainte-Beuve was never 
forgiven them, and nobody bothered to recall that he had always 
not merely in 1852 been an opponent of the Orleanists. 

No one can justify censorship to authors, and Sainte-Beuve 
was taught this lesson at first opportunity. He was appointed to 
the chair of Latin poetry at the College de France, the govern- 
ment's nomination having been supported by fourteen of the 
fifteen professors already holding chairs. He delivered his first 
public lecture on March 9, 1855, and was bothered by an under- 
current of rude remarks. The second lecture produced a hubbub, 
which drove him from the hall, and the course was suspended. 
He never again gave a public lecture at the College de France, 
but held the chair until his death. The recipient of many threat- 
ening letters, he went out for a time armed with a concealed 
knife, but suffered no attacks. As compensation for this humilia- 
tion, the government appointed Sainte-Beuve to a professorship 
at the Ecole normale in 1859. He was a poor teacher, as in Lau- 
sanne, but surprised his critics by lecturing favorably on Hugo, 
the regime's bet noire. 

Though a charitable man and given to amnesties, Napoleon III 
was as unforgiving of Hugo as Hugo was of Napoleon III. That 
Hugo had fought in the streets against the coup cTtat of 1851 
was not his crime; he was guilty of the most dangerous crime 
against the head of a state: ridicule. The tone of NapoUon le 
petit, written in Brussels, was implicit in its tide; and Ch&tvnents, 
also written in Brussels, avowed that the "crime of the i8th 
Brumaire" had not been atoned for by Waterloo or St. Helena, 
but by the spectacle of December 2nd: 

The horrible vision faded. In despair 

The Emperor cried out with horror in the dark, 

Lowered his eyes and raised affrighted hands. 


As the Belgians were nervous about the presence of many French 
exiles, Hugo moved to Jersey. In 1855 he removed to Guernsey 
after having insulted Victoria for her alliance with Napoleon and 
arousing the ire of Her Majesty's Jersey subjects. He endured 
the leisure of exile for nineteen years. 

Neither Napoleon III nor Eug6nie was conversant with the 
fine arts, but they tried to do their duty as sovereigns by inviting 
artists and writers to the palace. The Empress once asked an 
author what she could best do for literature, and was told, 
"Madam, you must love it"; but as good intentions alone do not 
make an amateur it fell to other members of the Bonaparte family 
to be convincing patrons of the arts, Princess MatHI'te in partic- 
ular. Had Princess Mathilde married Louis-Napoleon as he had 
originally planned, she probably would not have cracked open 
his head to see what went on inside her persistent wish during 
the Second Empire but would have done much to reconcile the 
intelligentsia to the r6gime. 

Sainte-Beuve met the Princess in 1844, but they did not see 
each other regularly until 1860. The following year she invited 
him to dine on Wednesdays at her home, which became his cus- 
tom. Though on good terms with Victor Duruy, Mathilde 
backed Sainte-Beuve for the Ministry of Public Instruction in 
1863, but as Duruy was the Emperor's choice Sainte-Beuve was 
later provided a Senate seat. 

Another Bonaparte princess, Julie Marquise Roccagiovini, 
hoped to draw Sainte-Beuve away from Mathilde's more brilliant 
salon, but he remained loyal to Mathilde. In consequence, Julie 
spread spiteful stories about him. As a bachelor whose household 
was run by three women housekeeper, cook, and maid Sainte- 
Beuve was a vulnerable target for gossip; but the three did not 
serve as a harem, as Julie implied: only the housekeeper was his 
mistress. Julie also accused him of having crawled on his hands 
and knees to get a place in the Senate. This, too, was unfair, con- 
sidering that Sainte-Beuve had refused, as a matter of principle, 
to review the Emperor's History of Julius Caesar. 

Shortly after his tiff with Julie, Sainte-Beuve made plans for 
a dinner at which Prince Jerome-Napoleon, Mathilde's brother, 
was to be the guest of honor. As the Prince was soon to leave 

I3 <5 Sainte-Beuve 

Paris, the dates avaikble for the dinner were few, and Sainte- 
Beuve finally settled on Good Friday (1868). The occasion pro- 
duced a scandal, because, as most of the guests were thought to 
be materialist and anticlerical, the consenus was that the date had 
been deliberately chosen to insult religious opinion. Sainte-Beuve, 
of course, was not irreligious, but his anticlericalism deepened in 
response to the outcry his dinner provoked. In the face of the 
storm, Mathilde began calling at his home on Sundays as if to 
mock public opinion. 

More trouble arose later in 1868 when the Bishop of Mont- 
pellier published an attack upon a course which had been opened 
at the Sorbonne for girls. Sainte-Beuve wrote an article ridiculing 
the bishop, which featured the lines, "He had uttered a cry of 
alarm the screams of an eagle as if it were a question of saving 
the capital." The editor of the Moniteur found die lines too bold, 
but Sainte-Beuve refused to strike them out; instead, he sent the 
article to an Opposition paper, Le Temps. Mathilde was indig- 
nant that Sainte-Beuve should transfer to an Opposition journal 
for such a petty grievance. As the two were known to be good 
friends, she felt his action could compromise her, for she was 
eager to avoid the charge of being disloyal to the Emperor. 

Sainte-Beuve did not regard this transfer as disloyalty to the 
dynasty, and thus refused to honor Mathilde's protest. Their 
friendship smashed in a shower of envenomed remarks, which 
they both soon regretted. A kidney stone was the source of 
Sainte-Beuve's peevishness, and accounts in part for this action 
which the literati found childish and ungallant. "When you have 
as your friend such a good-natured creature as the princess," 
Flaubert wrote to George Sand, "and when this friend has given 
you an income of thirty thousand francs a year [the Senate], 
you owe her a certain consideration." 

""People were, of course, quick to criticize Sainte-Beuve, for the 
role of professional critic does not earn one many friends; criti- 
cism is the thankless art form. He was so often unflatteringly 
characterized "He is a mad sheep," Buloz wrote that one 
might forget the authority his words carried on matters literary 
during the Second Empire. The Duchesse d'Abrantfcs could 


amuse her guests by calling him Sainte-B6vue (Saint Blunder), 
but his opinions commanded a greater audience than her puns. 

He was not a prepossessing man, and he knew it: fat cheeks, 
large nose, protruding cheekbones, short, and quite bald, he was 
far from the tall, handsome swain he longed to be. He struck 
some as a monk, others as a cardinal, his well shaven face, fine 
hands, and soft voice giving the impression of an ecclesiastic 
rather than a rake. His home was monastic in its frugality, though 
chastity was not one of its rules, and he worked hard according 
to a rigid schedule. 

Monday through Thursday was given to intensive reading and 
note taking. On Friday he dictated articles to a secretary, as 
writer's cramp made any extensive writing impossible for him. 
He corrected proof on Saturday and Sunday morning and ap- 
peared in print on Monday. He rarely worked on Sunday after- 
noons, but often strolled along the boulevards, milling with the 
crowd. Dinner was usually an intellectual as well as social occa- 
sion, Princess Mathilde's Wednesdays being one example. An- 
other was the Magny dinners, named for the restaurant where a 
group of writers met biweekly. Proposed by Gavarni (Guillaume 
Chevalier) in 1862, the Magny set originally included Sainte- 
Beuve, the Goncourt brothers, Chennevi&res, and Veyne. Flau- 
bert, Taine, Renan, Gautier, and Saint- Victor soon became mem- 
bers, and other literary celebrities, like George Sand, were occa- 
sional guests. The conversation was presumed to be strictly off the 
record, but the Goncourts recorded much in their Journal des- 
pite the rule. George Sand found Sainte-Beuve the best conver- 
sationalist and the most intelligent man in the group. 

Sainte-Beuve grew increasingly cantankerous during his last 
two years, in part the result of his kidney stone. These years 
coincided, too, with the regime's momentary shift toward cleri- 
calism, which deeply vexed him, as did his unfortunate break 
with Princess Mathilde. He never joined the Opposition or be- 
came antidynastic, merely referring to himself as "to the left 
of the regime" and feuding with the r6gime's conservative sup- 
porters. He was a silent Senator for nearly two years. Then, in 
1867, as the conservative reaction set in, he made a violent speech 

138 Sainte-Beuve 

in favor of Renan and followed it with an attack upon some 
superpatriots in Saint-Etienne who proposed to rid their public 
library of books containing advanced political, social, and eco- 
nomic views. He reminded the Senate that the Prisoner of Ham 
had socialistic opinions: 

To adopt what good there is in socialism to separate socialism from 
the Revolution and to work it into the regular fabric of society has 
always seemed to me an original and an essential task for the Second 

The Emperor, yes, Gentlemen, the Emperor (for I do not hesitate 
to call on the regime's highest and most liberal authority), honors M. 
Renan with his esteem as he honors George Sand with his friendship. 

For the first time, Sainte-Beuve began to enjoy popularity, 
as he continued to speak in the Senate for a liberal Empire. His 
articles in Le Temps were nonpolitical, except for an open 
letter addressed to the editor in which he criticized the govern- 
ment for having been too indifferent to the hostility of the intelli- 
gentsia the students, the academicians, the artists, and the 
writers. Published on September 7, 1869, the letter was his swan- 
song. His poor health forced him to abandon a series of projected 
lectures at Harvard University and ended his twenty-year hope 
of visiting America. 

In October of 1869, when it was clear that Sainte-Beuve was 
dying, Princess Mathilde was determined that they should be- 
come reconciled. Told of her intention, Sainte-Beuve dictated 
his last note to her on the twelfth in which he expreseed his great 
satisfaction that their friendship was to be renewed. He died the 
following day in great agony after an operation. According to 
his own instructions, his burial was civil and without discourse, 
but a throng came to pay him tribute. Thus perished the most 
notable critic of the age; and his loss was the world's, not merely 
that of France, for he had fulfilled his own definition of a clas- 
sic "speaking to everyone in his individual style, a style which 
is found to be also universal" 


The Countess 


On 'woman falls the duty, in a world of brute 
passions, of preserving the virtues of charity 
and the Christian spirit. . . . When 'women 
cease to play that role, life will be the loser. 


That irresistible beauty is the kiss of desolation 
is the true translation of f emme f atale. 


140 The Countess 

t is reasonably certain that March 22nd was the birthday of 
Virginia Oldoini, but the year escapes detection. The least plausi- 
ble date is 1843, which we may ignore because the lady herself 
provided it. Generally, writers have accepted 1840 as the date, 
but there is room for doubt here too. Virginia always avowed 
she had no birth certificate; ultimately discovered, this document 
carried the unflattering revelation of 1835. This would ordinarily 
serve as sufficient evidence were it not for a reference in a letter 
from mother to daughter, written on daughter's birthday, March 
22, 1854: "Seventeen years ago I produced this masterpiece." 

The Oldoini family, originally Genoese, lived in Florence. 
Marquis Philippe Oldoini early recognized his daughter's beauty 
and die iron will and narcissism which too often accompany great 
beauty. He called her Nichia, a nickname which later became 
Mini. There is no reason to credit her later female rivals who had 
a low opinion of her intelligence. She had a good mind and a 
knack for languages, which enabled her easily to master both 
English and French. Neither is there any reason to credit Vir- 
ginia's snobbish insinuation that she was semiroyalty. It is true 
that the Marquise Oldoini was an intimate of Prince Joseph 
PoniatowsM; but, unhappily for her social distinction, Virginia 
was legitimate. 

The Marquise was far from an ideal mother by the standards 
of any age. She contributed little more than favorable remarks 
about her daughter's beauty; Virginia was allowed to do as she 
pleased, and there was ample money to satisfy her whims. Instead 
of learning the responsibilities which life commands, she was 
nurtured in an atmosphere of adulation, which grew in intensity 
as she matured. Offers of marriage showered in before she was 
fifteen, and the fame of her beauty even traveled abroad. Small 


wonder indeed that she developed into a tyrannical egocentric. 
In 1854 Francesca Verasis, Count of Castiglione, went abroad 
to find a bride. At a reception in London, he confided his mission 
to the French Ambassador, Count Walewski (a man whose lovely 
wife was brilliant testimony to his taste), and was promptly 
advised to go to Florence where the most beautiful woman in 
Europe lived. Her identity made known, Castiglione went straight 
to the Oldoini house to request the beauty's hand in marriage. 
He did not inquire of her personality or character; that her 
beauty was celebrated sufficed. 

The Marquis and Marquise Oldoini were pleased by Castig- 
lione's offer as he was handsome and young (twenty-nine), was 
of high birth, and was an aide-de-camp to Victor Emmanuel II 
of Sardinia. In the Marquis's mind, die problem of mating a 
strong-willed, self-centered woman with this rather weak male 
who offered himself was overshadowed by the connection at the 
Sardinian court which the marriage would cement. Oldoini was 
an ambitious diplomat who yearned for responsible office abroad, 
and Castiglione seemed the route to royal favor. 

Virginia sensed Castiglione's weakness and made no secret of 
the fact that she would never love him. He seemed willing to 
accept this as long as he could possess the most beautiful woman 
in Europe; the marriage was a matter of pride to him, and vanity 
left him no doubt that in time she would be unable to avoid loving 
him. Ultimately she gave way, and the alliance became a fact in 
1854. If one seeks a supreme example of incompatibles joined in 
unhappy union, the Verasis-Oldoini match should serve. The new 
Countess at first thought the marriage ideal; she was persistently 
cold toward him, and he responded by spending lavishly on her. 
It was a beautiful coquette's dream come true: to receive without 
end and without obligation. Unfortunately, there was an end to 
the money, and the couple was swiftly reduced to his income 
from the royal household. 

After the wedding they lived at the palace in Turin, where the 
bride received some suggestions in a letter from her mother: "I 
expect that by now you will have undergone what all of us have 
undergone with our husbands, and though it may be painful the 

142 The Countess 

first time, you must be patient and careful to make him happy." 
Whether or not one regards this maternal advice as sound, it 
may be regarded as hopelessly tardy in shaping the daughter's 
behavior. Virginia had had no practice in the consideration of 
the happiness of others, and even had she wished to so contribute, 
she would not have known what to do. 

The marriage was, in fact, a fiasco from the start. One child, 
Georges, was born in 1855, but the couple gave up familiar ad- 
dress shortly after and separation ultimately followed. Mean- 
while, the Countess was royally treated in Turin. Victor 
Emmanuel II, while not so handsome as the Countess's husband, 
was vigorous, rough, and anything but shy around the ladies. 
On a state visit to France, for example, he once remarked to Mme. 
de Malaret that he had particularly noted that French women did 
not wear the drawers customarily worn in Turin. It was often 
said of the King (as of Charles II) that he was one monarch who 
might rightly style himself "the Father of His People." There 
remains no specific evidence of a liaison between Countess and 
King, but there was an abundance of gossip. 

At this time, the unification of Italy was the goal of the Kong's 
government. Stripped of patriotic verbiage, this meant that tiny 
Sardinia wished to absorb the rest of the Italian peninsula and 
eradicate the frontiers of the petty Italian states. Suchagigantic 
act rvf ffigestirm rnrrfd nffl Kg ftngitwr(f[ fry Sardinia alone, as 
there were powerful nppnn^ n ^ o f Italian unification, Austria 

and the Papacy in particular.^ Austria directly governed the 
northern provinces ot JLombardy and Venetia, and by protecting 
the petty and unpopular despots in Modena, Parma, and Tuscany, 
she indirectly ruled them too. The Pope had large temporal 
possessions in central Italy, and French troops had been in Rome 
since 1849 to frustrate the attempts of Italian patriots to seize 
the city as a national capital. 

It was apparent to County Cavour, Prime Minister of Sardinia, 
and to Victor Emmanuel n^tB&t Italian unification would require 
French sanction and military aid. Ordinarily such assistance 
would not have been forthcoming, as it was hard to imagine 
any French government willing to create a Mediterranean rival 


and to despoil the Papacy. Yet, Cavour was incredibly lucky; 
the French monarch, Napoleon III, had shown himself to be .a 
friend of Italian nationalism, both in theory and in practice. 

Napoleon III had inherited his concern for the Italians from 
the FiisjJEmptfe-uiid Uuuugli the loim ui Hit P^pokonic Leg- 
end. Tradition had it that Bonapartism championed the self- 
detejimnationof nationalities; furthermor 
be- expelLe 

rivelv smash the 181? settlement, which had proscribed his fam- 
ily. "Obviously, the Bonaparte dynasty was expected to profit 
from this policy, but there is also good reason to believe that 
Napoleon III was convinced of the Legend's validity. He re- 
garded a European system of "completed nationalities" in the 
Wilsonian sense as the basis for international peace. 

the Emperor was equating Bonapartigm witbJPsar<% an equation 
so smmgfr for those who could rflmfimher thf* early yean? of the 
rpninir^jjTiaih it fc_ no warier that Fnropftinn miratni'rrH his 
avowed intentions. 

Sardinia's task was to encourage His Majesty's Italian sympa- 
thies, and if the ordinary channels of diplomacy did not suffice, 
Cavour was prepared to complement diplomacy with a more 
ancient professional service. Perhaps the sight of the Countess of 
Castiglione coquetting with the King in Turin enabled Cavour to 
conceive the idea of sending her to Paris, where she might cm- 
ploy her talents for the fatherland. Or perhaps Cavour chose 
her his own cousin to perform the delicate mission to Paris as 
a measure of his own patriotic zeal. 

Eager for adventure and bored with her husband, the Countess 
was ready to go. Francesca not only protested in vain, but 
justifiably, since he could no longer afford the extravagance of 
life at tie French court. When it became apparent that the 
Countess would go to Paris with or without her husband's con- 
sent, in fact with or without her husband, poor Francesca made 
ruinous financial arrangements. He borrowed 400,000 francs 
from Prince Joseph Poniatowski, raising his accumulated debt 
to more than 1,500,000 francs. A gallant attempt to meet this 
debt by selling his Turin properties realized a paltry 70,000, 

144 The Countess 

forcing the Count to cede his chateau and agricultural lands 
to Poniatowski to dear the debts. Since these lands were valued 
at more than two million, it is not astonishing that Castiglione 
felt financially abused by Poniatowski. Owning the most beauti- 
ful woman in Europe had cost him his cash and most of his 
lands; worse, she could not be maintained on his lieutenant's 

Meanwhile, the Countess proceeded with her official mission, 
seemingly indifferent to her husband's distress. Her real regret 
was that she had not arrived in Paris earlier. She once remarked 
that had this been the case, France would have had an Italian 
rather than a Spanish Empress. As it_was, she arrived kte 1*0855, 
fvMnd hpr, tn find Frnnrp, Trirrnrirms in the 
War p rf pan"g *"** a p^rft pnrtfffiwir* -anl-fi Pnccfc 

Her first reception at the Tuileries came on November 24, 1855, 
and produced a sensation. The fame of her beauty was such that, 
when she was announced, the dancers paused to gape; many of 
the gentlemen climbed on furniture for a more favorable view, 
and even the music momentarily stopped. She was superbly 
poised, supremely confident, regarding this demonstration as a 
proper tribute to her obvious superiority. At the very most she 
was twenty, and there was no more brilliant court on the Conti- 
nent! The Emperor invited her for the first waltz and passed 
much of the evening near her. It was an auspicious entrance into 
foreign affairs. 

Actually, this was not the first time that Napoleon had seen the 
Countess of Castiglione. The Marquis Oldoini had acted as Napo- 
leon's guardian in the earlier days of exile. Several times the 
young pretender had visited the Oldoinis in Italy and had even 
held the infant Virginia in his arms. Dare one deny that History 

Whatever the Countess was to wear later on, she did not at 
first risk the Empress Eugenie's displeasure, but faithfully wore 
crinoline, a cage and petticoat hoopg in the fashion set by Her 
Majesty. Eug6nie was neither unkind nor hostile to beautiful 
women, recognizing her own charm as adequate defense, but she 


included the Countess at her "Mondays" with some reluctance 
because of Napoleon's obvious attraction to her. 

Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, who was bitterly antagonistic 
to the Empress, took the cue and made a point of being warmly 
friendly to the Countess. Thus, Countess de Casriglione quite 
fortuitously won the second lady of the Empire. Louis-Napoleon 
had wooed and lost his cousin Mathilde in the days when all 
Europe regarded his throne seeking as a joke. Since Mathilde's 
mother shared Europe's opinion, Mathilde lost an Empire. Sadly 
enough, it was France's loss too, since the Princess's intelligence 
would have served her well as Empress. Instead, Mathilde married 
for what she thought was love, selecting Anatole Demidov, the 
Prince of San Donato. It was a short and unhappy marriage, but 
lasted long enough for considerable dirty linen to be washed in 
public. When she could not extract a princely settlement from 
her estranged husband, Mathilde secured the intervention of 
Czar Nicholas I, who had the authority to require his subject to 
pay the Princess an imperial pension. 

Mathilde had a second opportunity to marry Louis-Napoleon 
after the coup tfetat of 1851, but she refused the offer. Perhaps 
she was disenchanted with marriage, or possibly she was uncertain 
about Louis-Napoleon's future, or possibly her greatest interest 
was in the artistic group which had begun to gather around her. 
It would seem that ultimately Mathilde regretted her choice, 
and she could never become fond of the Empress Eug6nie be- 
cause of jealousy. In revenge, she carried on an open liaison with 
a sculptor, Count Emilien de Nieuwerkerke, which amused Paris, 
annoyed the Emperor, and scandalized the Empress. 

The Princess and the Empress reacted in opposite ways to the 
fact that Countess de CastigHone came to Paris from the palace in 
Turin. Sardinia was not only the organizer of Italian nationalism, 
but had been the scene of recent anticlerical legislation. Mathilde 
and her brother, Prince Jerome Napoleon, were true Bonapartes 
in that they claimed the principles of 1789, but there was much 
of the cmcien regime in Eug6nie. Jerome had been elected Deputy 
during the Second Republic and had sat with the Mountain. He 

146 The Countess 

had been outspokenly opposed to sending French troops to 
Rome in 1849 for the defense of the Papacy, and his friendship 
for Louis-Napoleon was never the same afterward. True, 
Mathilde continued to do the honors at the Elys6e Palace and at 
the Tuileries until there was an Empress, but she remained liberal 
in principle, and no doubt she welcomed Mme. de Castiglione as 
an Italian. 

Having taken pains at first to observe the padding and puffing 
with which the Empress presumed to improve the female figures 
of France, the Countess Castiglione soon sallied forth in low-cut, 
clinging gowns. She wore no corsets and, in the idiom of Horace 
de Vid-Castel, regarded her bust as a challenge to the rest of 
her sex. Fancy-dress balls offered her the best opportunities for 
individualism and, incidentally, for the display of her physical 

One of the more celebrated masked balls was given on Febru- 
ary 17, 1856, by Count Walewski, newly Foreign Minister. La 
Castiglione wore the Queen of Hearts costume, presumably her 
own invention. Corsetless, she draped her bosom in light gauze; 
the skirt was raised and caught up in back in the eighteenth cen- 
tury fashion, showing the petticoat. Ornamental hearts were 
scattered over both bodice and skirt, invariably in interesting 
places. Her Majesty was present at the Foreign Ministry, but as 
a guest she could not command the Countess to disappear. In- 
stead she congratulated the Countess on the unique costume, but 
added, **Your heart seems a little low/' 

Some time later the Countess offered the Empress another chal- 
lenge which had less amusing repercussions. Invited to a court 
ball, she went to Leroy and demanded a coiffure identical to the 
one he was preparing for the Empress. Leroy, knowing full well 
that a crisis tantamount to civil war would erupt should he com- 
ply, absolutely refused. Castiglione, however, was not accustomed 
to masculine refusal, and her violent insistence ultimately pre- 
vailed over his better wisdom. The two coiffures bobbed in the 
same ballroom that night, and Leroy crawled before Her Majesty 
next morning to receive a furious dismissal. His most talented 
pupil, Alexandra, was appointed hairdresser in his stead, and the 


shocked Leroy, who had been a devoted courtier, soon sickened 
and died. 

Meanwhile, family matters were not improving. The Count of 
Castiglione was restless for Turin, but his wife refused to go. 
Having threatened to go without her, he was eventually obliged 
to do so. Their separation in 1856 was permanent, though they 
kept up a correspondence until his accidental death in 1867. Papa 
Oldoini tried to save the marriage and urged conciliation, pri- 
marily to avoid scandal, but in truth he was too well aware of 
his daughter's power to advance his diplomatic career to risk 
offending her. He wrote her frequently to suggest that she use 
her "magic wand" on his behalf; he wanted important diplomatic 
posts and a steady supply of foreign decorations, particularly 
those with "pretty jewels." As a matter of fact she did well by 
him, enabling him to rise from Secretary of the Legation in Paris 
to Sardinian Minister to Russia (1856). With this start, he was 
able to maintain himself on a dignified level, and ultimately he 
served Italy in Lisbon for twenty years. 

Many women of the Countess of Castiglione's rank, if separated 
from their husbands, would have felt obliged to retire from the 
arena of social life. To her, the absence of a husband was a con- 
venience, an emancipation. She managed her social life with 
theatrical skill, making it a point to be periodically out of Paris. 
These trips were most frequently to Holland House in London, 
to Orleans House in Twickenham, to Sardinia, Dieppe, or Baden; 
her repeated absences created an exaggerated idea of her impor- 
tance, as many observers presumed she had achieved an enormous 
influence in international politics. 

The Congress of Paris convened early in 1856 to draw out on 
paper the international changes produced in desolate Crimea. 
Cavour was in Paris to represent Sardinia. We may doubt the 
Countess of Castiglione's assertion that it was her success in Paris 
which secured Cavour's participation. After all, Sardinian troops 
had been sent to the Crimea, not for any grievance against Russia, 
but to secure Sardinia a seat at the peace table. There is little 
doubt that she reveled in the grand intrigues of a major diplo- 
matic conference, and Cavour sent word that his agents would 

148 The Countess 

accept any notes which she wished to send him. "I have not 
wanted to deprive them of the pleasure of receiving them from 
your pretty hands." True enough, the Countess had scored a 
success in Paris, but it was personal rather than political. It did 
not require much skill to suspect there was a notable disparity 
between the Countess's limited income and her lavish living. By 
1857 an epigram was making the rounds: "There is no Emperor 
but one Emperor, and Casriglione is his prophet." 

Napoleon HI, who had taken an instantaneous interest in 
Cavour's ambassadress upon her first entrance into the Tuileries, 
was not a man to regard a shapely figure lightly. Perhaps he inher- 
ited his interest in the opposite sex from his mother, Hortense 
Beauharnais, whose liberality in such matters gave rise to much 
speculation about His Majesty's legitimacy. One of the perquisites 
of absolute power (and Napoleon III was absolute in these years) 
is one's irresistibility in matters of love, and the Emperor was 
never wasteful of his opportunities. His critics have suggested, 
that is, shouted from the rooftops, that his devotion to affairs of 
the heart often postponed his attention to affairs of state, which 
was no doubt true; but without seeming to make a case for sexual 
overindulgence, one can doubt that his policies and their results 
would have been very different had the Emperor labored on in 
laudable continence. 

The gossip of 1857 was not far wrong. Napoleon made little 
visits to the "divine Countess" at her small home in the rue de la 
Pompe, and these trips could not be concealed. The secret police 
arranged, escorted, and protected, but at least there were no 
crowds to cheer him en route. The police foiled several assassina- 
tion attempts near the Countess's house, none of which became 
as celebrated as those attempts made upon him on more seemly 

Also in 1857, His Majesty invited the Countess to join the court 
for a number of weeks at Compi&gne, his chateau north of Paris. 
This residence, built in the time of Louis XV and extended by 
Napoleon I, was the scene of many receptions, hunts, and theatri- 
cal productions during the Second Empire. One night, at a per- 
formance by the Com6die-Franaise, the Countess complained of 


a headache and excused herself from her box. The Emperor, 
aware of this oldest of female ruses, followed to her chamber to 
inquire after her health, and the Empress was left quite alone to 
face the amused and knowing eyes of the entire court. 

A charitable few have doubted that Castiglione was Napoleon's 
favorite, to use the correct monarchical term, but all evidence 
points to the contrary. Her police dossier, for instance, shows a 
remarkable void during the months she was in favor, but is com- 
plete for the period following her retirement. Then, the Emperor 
was liberal in his gifts of cash and jewels. He gave her an emerald 
valued at 100,000 francs and a pearl necklace which brought 
422,000 francs after her death. While it is true that Napoleon HI 
was a generous man, it is safe to suppose that such magnificent 
gifts required extraordinary thanks. Finally, the best evidence 
is the Countess's Last Will and Testament, where she asked to be 
buried in "the Comptegne nightgown, 1857." 

The diplomatic .campaiga^waped by Cavour from i8c? on 
suggests that, he regarded French assistance~as~^sseaUal mid immi- 
fiSitrWhat he did not see in his patriotic insistence was the suffer- 
ing which France had undergone in the Crimean War, the several 
disastrous harvests, the outbreaks of cholera, and serious floods 
in the Rh6ne and Loire valleys. Real food shortages, inflation, 
and the losses from an unpopular war created an unrest in France, 
which the government kept obscure through its control of the 
press. In short, Napoleon in did not dare provoke a second war 
at the moment, a war which he knew would be unpopular in 
Catholic France under the most favorable domestic conditions. 

When Napoleon did conspire to promote a war, he was neither' 
reacting fearfully to the Orsini attempt upon his life in 1858, as 
is so often suggested, nor was he merely appreciating the services 
rendered him by the Ambassadress from Sardinia. As a slave to 

the Xffljvdftftnfo T-ftfrend Vift had alwoyc r*nngnfrft<l that he HlUSt 
<^*1$fr something for Italy," an^ hy Tft^fl FfflPCfr had recovered 

suffiden3y^to alloura new venture. Furthermore, a diplomatic 
campaign to reach an understanding with Russia was proceeding 
well, and, indeed, was crowned by an agreement in March, 1859, 
giving Napoleon HI new strength in foreign affairs. 

150 The Countess 

The war of 1859 was hatched and fought with the idea of 
expelling the Austrians from Lombardy and Venetia. The Franco- 
Sardinian armies were successful in the early engagements, though 
the Austrians managed an orderly withdrawal into strong de- 
fensive positions and were far from beaten. Suddenly Prussia 
mobilized on the northern frontiers of France, and, as the Russians 
did nothing to halt them, Napoleon HI was obliged to end the 
half won war and take only Lombardy. He gave the province to 
Sardinia and was reviled by the Italians for his failure to liberate 
Venetia, a response hardly unique in the history of diplomacy, 
which is known for ingratitude. 

The Countess of Castiglione shared her countrymen's senti- 
ments and voiced them freely in France. This earned her close 
surveillance by the police, who were inclined to suspect all 
Italians. (All the attempts to assassinate Napoleon III were made 
by Italians none by Frenchmen.) Her continued indiscretions 
landed her at the frontier in 1860, and she retired to her Villa 
Gloria at Spezia near Turin. The loss of imperial favor meant a 
new era for the Countess, and gentlemen who had been restrained 
by the Emperor's monopoly could now enter into a competition 
of flattering proportions for her attention. 

One of the first in the amorous cortege was Prince Henri de la 
Tour d'Auvergne-Lauraguais, whose letters to the Countess span 
the years 1859-1863. During the years of his devotion, he served 
his country in Turin, Berlin, and London; and, if we can believe 
his love letters, he was desolate most of die time: "If you knew 
how my poor heart is broken at the thought of a separation." 
But their almost constant separation was a convenience to the 
Countess, who could expand her circle of devotees. Another 
young diplomat, Henri d'ldeville, serving in Turin, began visit- 
ing the Countess late in 1860 at the Villa Gloria. He did not go 
to make love, but to satisfy his curiosity. 

D'ldeville found her quiet and cold, though friendly enough, 
and he wrote that her beauty was something so perfect that it 
aroused admiration rather than a more fundamental passion. She 
encouraged him to call often, so that he saw her repeatedly during 
1861. He never changed his initial impression of her, however, 


always acknowledging her superb beauty and finding her cold- 
ness repellent. Furthermore, he suggested that she must have had 
remarkable inner resources and a superior intelligence to weather 
the exile of her villa. Not more than twenty-six years old, or 
perhaps only twenty-four, she was suffering the disillusionment 
common to all who flourish too young. She told D'Ideville that 
she had found herself so superior to other people in society that a 
calm and independent life on her hill seemed infinitely preferable. 
A similar assertion she once inscribed on a photograph of herself: 
"I am their equal in birth, their superior in beauty, their judge 
in intellect." 

Remarks and confessions which are planted in diaries and al- 
bums may seem to be casual, but they are often revealing. The 
completion of questionnaires of preferences was a popular pas- 
time in the nineteenth century, and Dldevifle happened to sub- 
mit one for the Countess's entertainment. Most of her responses 
were in character, as a few of them will show: 

What occupation? Thinking 

What pleasure? I know none. 

What passion? Contempt 

What music? Sad 

What amusement? The fan 

What season? The spring 

What country? The desert 

What virtue? Courage 

What sentiment? Devotion 

What animal repels you? Cat 

What animal attracts you? Eagle 
Most attractive historical 

personality? Charlemagne 

Most antagonistic figure? The Emperor 

The Countess left only one of D'Ideville's questions blank: 
4 What moral antipathy?" 

There was a remarkably persistent rumor in 1861 that the 
Marquis of Hertford had paid the Countess of Castiglione a 
million francs for the pleasure of one night. One hesitates to 

152 The Countess 

credit this rumor, as Hertford was a far from romantic figure. 
He had a collection of 250 clocks and was the sort of man who 
worried endlessly because he could not keep them synchronized. 
Furthermore, as this immensely rich nobleman was a celebrated 
tightwad, it is a bit hard to visualize him parting with a million 
francs for one evening's entertainment. 

After her brief exile, the Countess was allowed to return to 
Fiance in 1861, where she added Count Emilien de Nieuwerkerke 
to her list of callers. Nieuwerkerke, the indiscreet lover of Prin- 
cess Mathilde, had been appointed Superintendent of Museums 
in 1853 through her patronage, but even this double obligation 
did not prevent him from casting about after other women. He 
was genuinely fond of the Countess, and their correspondence 
continued well into the i88o's. His letters were often graceful 
and humorous: "Dear Madam Nini, Do not turn your pretty back 
on me," he wrote in 1864; "even though I find it charming, I 
like the other side still more. . . ." The two were kindred spirits, 
always willing to flout public opinion. 

The Countess had a sudden whim one Christmas eve to hear 
the bells of Paris from a point of vantage. She got Nieuwerkerke 
to take her to the roof of the Louvre, but whatever were the 
auditory advantages of this spot the gossips of Paris intimated 
that neither heard the bells. At another time, when Nieuwerkerke 
was escorting the Countess through the Louvre, she questioned 
him, a sculptor himself, about the nude statues. For what reason, 
she wondered, did the sculptors of antiquity endow their heroic 
figures so niggardly in the area of virility? The Count could 
not have been more embarrassed by the question than Castig- 
lione's biographers, who have left History tie poorer by record- 
ing his response as "the obvious one." 

With the revenues from the imperial treasury no longer forth- 
coming, it is not astonishing that the Countess should have begun 
to include great bankers among her intimates. She was a favorite 
at the Rothschild House, and we find the Baron James de Roths- 
child, in his seventieth year, expressing his pleasure at receiving a 
portrait of her: **But how much more charming indeed is the 
original!" His son, Baron Gustave, was only a few years older 


than the Countess, and it is presumed that he was better able to 
enjoy the family investments in her. One of the Rothschild 
friends and business associates, a banker named Ignace Bauer, 
also fell for the fatal beauty. The affair was inconvenienced by 
Bauer's almost continual residence in Madrid, where he served 
Italy as Consul General. This harried soul was of literary bent. He 
sent her masses of letters to supplement his brief visits to Paris. A 
wealthy man, he made her important loans, but he never lived 
under the illusion that she loved him, and compared his lot with 
those of Romeo and Ab61ard. 

If Bauer was sure that she was "the beautiful Countess who 
loves nobody," he did entertain the hope that she might marry 
him. For several years, she persistently refused to promise any- 
thing in the event her husband could be removed from the scene, 
and finally, in 1865, Bauer married another woman. Castiglione's 
immediate response was to accuse him of desertion; perhaps his 
own suggestion of Romeo and Ab61ard had given her ideas that a 
noteworthy sacrifice ought to be made to her beauty. 

Another banker, Charles Laffitte, fell in love with tie Countess 
in 1 86 1. His loans to her ultimately reached 450,000 francs. 
Though about sixty years of age, he must have been rather new 
at the game, since he expected to be repaid. The Countess was 
able to reduce this debt to 250,000 by 1866, but financial squab- 
bling stained the beauty of their friendship: "Here, my dear 
Nichia, are a hundred thousand francs. Allow me to request as a 
favor, not as a condition, that you not go to the Tuileries this 
evening." And then a few days later he writes: "You asked me to 
give you 100,000 francs for twenty-four hours. . . . More than 
twelve days have elapsed, and not only have you returned noth- 
ing, but you have said and written some very unfriendly 
things. ... I am not your lover; I am not your banker; you do 
not treat me as a friend. What am I then?" He gave the answer 
himself in 1866: "For a long time I have not counted on affection. 
I ask no more than simple equity." 

In 1863 the newspapers were full of stories that the Countess of 
Castiglione had appeared nearly nude at a Tuileries ball, cos- 
tumed, if that is the word, as Salammbo. (Flaubert's novel had 

154 The Countess 

appeared the previous year.) Her husband, who ordinarily never 
believed the stories he heard about her and considered her per- 
fectly faithful, was in this case outraged that she should have 
linked his family name with a scandalous proceeding. In time, 
however, the actual facts of the Salammbo affair were clarified. 

The costume ball was held at the Tuileries on February 9, 
1863, and the Countess went garbed as the Queen of Etruria. It 
was a proper costume with very little decollete, and the Countess 
noted in her diary that the simplicity of her gown was favorably 
compared with those of the other women who went as flies, 
midges, and butterflies. There was one exception. A Mme. Rim- 
sky-Korsakov, usually given to daring costumes, came in a light 
veil, which passed for Salammb6's veil of Tank, and shortly after 
was invited by the Empress Eug&iie to leave the Tuileries. 

It is understandable that the newspapers believed and printed 
the story, substituting the Countess's name for that of Mme. 
Rimsky-Korsakov. The deed fitted the reputation. The Countess's 
anger over the mistake was compounded by an encounter she had 
with the Russian woman before the latter's expulsion from the 
palace. Sizing up the Queen of Etruria, Mme. Rimsky-Korsakov 
said, "A pretty costume, but that of a deposed queen." 

The furious Countess appealed to the Empress, and complaints 
against the press were referred to Persigny, then Minister of 
Interior. He acknowledged that he was shocked by the "treach- 
ery" of the press, and promised that suitable corrections would 
be forthcoming. He could not approve, however, the Countess's 
request that an announcement be made that the guilty news- 
papers had been banned from France at the Empress's instigation* 

The Salammbd affair was not the last or least of Mme. Runsky- 
Korsakov*s indiscretions. Two years later at Biarritz, when the 
Villa Eug6nie was crowded with guests including Bismarck 
she paraded along the beach in a bathing suit which left little 
to the imagination. The windows of the Villa glinted with the 
focusing of fieldglasses, as Madame skillfully improved the effect 
by keeping her suit wet. The Empress was much annoyed by 
this display and insisted that less revealing costumes be worn 


If the gentlemen of France found the Countess of Castiglione 
fascinating, it did not follow that their wives were equally en- 
thusiastic. Nor would it be fair to insist that the women were 
merely jealous of her beauty. The Countess did her best to be a 
troublesome guest. She accepted invitations with ungraceful 
indifference, made it a point to arrive late, and was usually sulky 
for the remainder of die evening. She had a genius for giving 
insulting excuses to explain her tardiness, such as that she had 
been to the races. 

Many of the women of the time were accustomed to keeping 
albums in which their guests might jot down verses or poetic 
thoughts. The Countess modified this custom to suit her own 
tastes. Her album was entitled Book of Testimonials. She was not 
interested in any poetic souvenir, but preferred a formal state- 
ment of her own glory. Adolphe Thiers, Prince Jerome-Napo- 
leon, Count Nieuwerkerke, and Lord Cowley (the British Am- 
bassador) were among the contributors. The following example 
was signed by Antoinc Berryer, a leading Royalist: 

I hereby certify for all present and future generations that neither 
the noble carriage of the Countess of Oastiglione, nor her wondrously 
perfect beauty, her radiant youth, her unique position in the world, 
her glorious mouth, nor her eyes, shining or sad, express the whole of 
that wit, intellect, goodness, tenderness, and rare intuition which she 

Though the Count and Countess of Castiglione were separated 
in 1856, their correspondence did not kg. The aggrieved hus- 
band, in Turin, drew up a list of his complaints which he dis- 
patched to her. Among the motives for the separation he included 
her refusal "to submit to the natural duties of marriage on the 
pretext that she did not wish to become pregnant a second time, 
which obliged the husband to make ridiculous and tiring scenes 
to obtain what was legitimately owed him." He also seems to 
have been annoyed that she regarded him as an imbecile who 
was good for nothing, an opinion she made no effort to conceal 
in the presence of others. He did not like her "complete lack of 
religion," finding it difficult to get her to go to mass on Sundays. 

156 The Countess 

Furthermore, he thought she gave way to excessive rage with- 
out sufficient provocation and that her expenditures for clothes 
were not in keeping with his fortune. Her conduct in public, 
he continued, was hardly praiseworthy; though perhaps innocent, 
her little flirtations did not always have that appearance and were 
an embarrassment to him. 
The Count's grievances were followed by an ultimatum: 

May 26, 1857: ", . . You will try to modify your ideas to bring 
them more into harmony with your position of wife and mother. You 
will avoid treating me with this indifference which wounds me. You 
will consult me before acting. ... If , on the contrary, you persist in 
your present attitude, our separation shall remain irrevocable." 

The Countess did not quail; indeed, 1857 was a 7 ear f notable 
success for her, and the Count must have realized that he had 
lost her. Even so, the correspondence went on: 

July 31, 1858: ". . . The day will come when your fatal beauty 
will have disappeared and the flatterers will be rarer. Perhaps you will 
then understand the unworthy manner with which you have obeyed 
the oath you made me before God and how, for four years, you 
have neglected your wifely duties while making me the most unhappy 
of men." 

If the Countess had made precious little ejSFort to fulfill her 
domestic obligation earlier, there was certainly no chance that 
she would submit to the matrimonial leash just as the Italian 
Question was becoming paramount in European affairs. She never 
lived with her husband again, and saw him for the last time in the 
spring of 1867, when she went to Turin for the wedding of 
Amadeo, Duke of Aosta, and the Princess Marie del Pozzo defla 
Gsterna. The Count of Castiglione accompanied Victor Em- 
manuel, the father of the groom. Except that the wedding 
brought the Count and Countess together for the last time, the 
attendant devastation certainly merits some note. 

To begin with, the bride's wardrobe mistress hanged herself 
instead of the bridal gown: a thoughtless act which necessitated 
the finding of another gown for the superstitious Princess. The 


colonel who was to lead the procession from the palace to the 
church fell from his horse with sunstroke, causing delay until a 
new officer arrived. The third contretemps was the failure of the 
palace gates to open. The gatekeeper was found dead in a large 
pool of blood, and a substitute had to be recruited to open the 

The ceremony itself was not spoiled by anyone's dying, but 
shortly afterward the best man contributed to the excitement by 
firing a pistol at his head. The procession proceeded toward the 
railway station, where the bridal party was to entrain, when 
suddenly the official who had drawn up the marriage contract 
succumbed to an apoplectic fit. At the station, the overzealous 
stationmaster fell beneath the wheels of the approaching bridal 
train, whereupon the King, thoroughly frightened, refused to 
allow anyone to board the train. Instead, the party returned to 
the carriages to drive back to the palace. The Count of Oastig- 
lione trotted alongside the bridal carriage, when suddenly he 
either fell or was thrown from his horse. The carriage wheels 
passed over him, crushing his new Order of the Annonciade 
into his chest and wounding him beyond hope. The House of 
Savoy considered the day an unhappy omen for the dynasty, 
and die whole affair was hushed up. 

It is hard to imagine the Countess of Castiglione going into 
anything but the most superficial mourning for her husband. The 
real misfortune was the paltry inheritance left her. She suspected, 
however, that her kte husband had secured property in Egypt, 
where he had been in 1864, and she got Ferdinand de Lesseps, 
builder of the Suez Canal, to arrange an interview for her with 
Ismail, Viceroy of Egypt. Conveniently enough, the Viceroy 
was in Paris for the Exposition of 1867. De Lesseps arranged the 
interview as bidden, but warned the Countess that he had been 
informed that her husband had received nothing more than a 
snuffbox and a pipe-case. The collision of these two notorious 
spendthrifts ended with the Countess getting nothing. "Your 
King," she wrote to De Lesseps, "is not only unfriendly and 
impolite, but is inclined to dishonesty. You can make my senti- 
ments known to him." 

The Countess 

Widowhood had no visible effect on the Countess of Castig- 
lione. It neither softened her heart nor curtailed her affairs. A 
new lover came into her life in 1868, the diplomat and writer 
Baron Imbert de Saint-Amand, whose passion burned fiercely 
for the next five years. Whether she be "wicked or good," he 
wrote to her, "selfish or devoted, I love you with all my heart, 
before, during, after, yesterday, today, tomorrow, always, and I 
shall never 'unlove' you. . . . But when I was kissing you, there 
was so much indifference and boredom in your face." 

Her answer? "Loving very much is not the same thing as lov- 
ing." But as men will, he continued this cruel torture for years 
until she was too bored even to be flattered by his suffering. 
"Since you wish it," he wrote, "let us henceforth be strangers 
one to another; let us not be enemies but retain the only good 
thing which remains when all else vanishes: the memory." He 
might have his sentiments for all she cared. Her greatest happi- 
ness, she told him, derived from her independent position, and 
this she intended to keep. 

In 1870 the war with Prussia broke out, destroying the France 
which the Countess had known for nearly fifteen years. She 
happened to be in Italy during the war and was one of the few 
of her compatriots who remembered Italy's great obligation to 
France. Blinded by the old illusion of her diplomatic importance, 
she sought to intercede with Bismarck to secure a generous peace 
for France. She argued that since Prussia had incontestably won 
the military honors, the only additional profit which might be 
secured by Prussia would come from a conciliatory peace settle- 
ment* She meant that a reasonable peace might prevent "an im- 
placable hatred which would be allied to vengeance" from rising 
in France. There is no evidence that Bismarck took her seriously. 
The Republic put Mme. de Castiglione out of style; the new 
regime merely hastened the inevitable, as her beauty had already 
begun to fade. Old age seemed to approach her prematurely, 
but she hated the thought. She tried to take revenge on the kws 
of nature by conspiring against the Republic. Sadly for her, she 
could no longer successfully employ her body to make a king- 
dom. The Due d'Aumale, son of Louis-Philippe, who carried on 


a liaison with the Countess both before and after the fall of the 
Empire, declined to be pushed by her toward a dictatorship. 
His nephew, Robert, Due de Chartres, was similarly willing to 
pay court to her, but refused her collaboration in politics. But, 
as the years went by, their personal attentions decreased, which 
was worse for her than the failure to manufacture an Orleans 

In despair, the Countess rarely appeared in public view. The 
death of her son, Georges, in 1879, was another severe blow. 
Only twenty-four, he was serving in the Italian Embassy in 
Madrid at the time of his death. They had never lived closely 
together, since his presence had made her embarrassingly old, 
but General Estancelin believed that Georges was the only person 
she ever really loved. The difficulty was, of course, that she was 
fonder of herself. She was genuinely attracted to General Louis 
Estancelin, with whom she plotted an Orleanist restoration, but 
while he was a loyal friend for over forty years, he never became 
her lover. Probably he recognized and resisted the subjection 
the latter role required, though he remained devoted and constant 
in his attentions. 

The Countess's retirement from public life quickly developed 
into virtual seclusion. In 1877 she moved into a ground-floor 
apartment on the Place Vendome to wait out her days; she would 
have been about forty at the time. Occasionally she emerged at 
odd hours, driving to the various properties she owned in Paris, 
peering into windows but never venturing foot into rooms where 
she had lived. Neither were there mirrors on the walls at home. 
The apartment was kept heavily shuttered, and there were no 
bells. She recognized no family after Georges's death, though ac- 
tually there were relatives in Italy. 

Her reluctance to realize any cash from her properties or her 
fabulous jewels left her short of money, and she regarded herself 
as destitute. It was the first time in her life that she saw her true 
self; she was destitute, because she had only jewels and properties. 
The Rothschilds provided a small monthly pension, and she was 
consistent in its mismanagement. To the illusion of pauperism 
she added, like many egocentrics, the illusion of sickness, and in 

160 The Countess 

later years passed a great share of her time in bed. At that point 
her chief occupation was a continual reworking of her Last 
Will and Testament. In 1894 the building on the Place Vendome 
changed hands, and the Countess was obliged to move. Her last 
residence was in the rue Cambon. Here she took her gold and 
purple wedding bed, which had come from the Villa in Spezia, 
and which she had stubbornly refused to sell. 

Death came in 1899, either in her sixty-third or sixty-fifth 
year. In reality, she had departed long before, as much a victim 
of her superficial qualities as her myriad of admirers had been. 
Her Last Will and Testament provided for the disposal of many 
valuable documents in her possession, but its chief concern was 
the details of her funeral and burial, faithfully mirroring her 
narcissism. As a subject of the King of Italy, she left her papers 
to be disposed of at the discretion of the Italian Embassy in Paris, 
expressly forbidding the French to touch a thing. The speed with 
which the Embassy agents investigated her papers, destroying 
many, suggested that the Countess was in the possession of docu- 
ments which would have edified the French. 

The details of the funeral speak for themselves: "The Com- 
piegne nightgown, 1857, of cambric and lace; the black velvet 
and white plush dressing-gown (at 14 rue Cambon). On my 
neck, the pearl necklace of nine ropes, six white and three black 
the necklace which I have worn every day. . . . The pillow . . . 
in cross-stitch embroidery in white floss-silk, lined with violet 
satin, with four corners, bouquets of pansies embroidered by my 
son as a child, at the Caf6 Anglais in Paris; a violet cord around 
it and four tassels . . . 

"The two dogs from 26 Place Vend6me (stuffed) will be 
placed at my feet during the last night, as I wish the vigil to be 
kept by my dead dogs, whom I named Sandouga and Kasino. 
Also put them in the coffin . . . one Tinder each foot. Besides 
my pets, I want their little music box, The Wave, which used 
to start them dancing a waltz. ... I want them beautifully 
dressed, blue and violet winter-coat with my monogram and 
their names, and their collars of pink flowers and cypress." 

The Countess wanted her passing to go unnoticed by the news- 


papers, and instructed her lawyers to pay the press for silence. 
The burial place, too, was to be kept secret. Actually, she was 
buried without display in Pere Lachaise, and no great monument 
adorned the grave. The simplest granite slab was left to mark the 
end. Quite unwittingly many of us epitomize our lives in some 
casual reference or idle phrase. When the Countess wrote in her 
journal, "Where there is no love, there is nothing in the long 
run," she unknowingly offered herself as proof. 


Louis Pasteur 


That common basis of all beautiful and true 
work, that divine fire, that indefinable breath 
which inspires Science, Literature, and Art, we 
have found in you, Sir: it is genius, 


Science should not concern itself in any way 
with the philosophical consequences of its dis- 


164 Louis Pasteur 

Jtasteur's birth and early years were not attended by signs of 
genius or prophecies of success. Born December 27, 1822, in the 
town of Dole (Jura), Louis Pasteur was the son of a tanner. The 
latter, though lightly schooled, had learned to speak with warmly 
patriotic accent after his conscription in 1811 and had served 
with merit in the Peninsular Campaign. Raised to be a Chevalier 
in the Legion of Honor in 1814, the brave young sergeant served 
during the remaining months of Napoleon's regime, only to be 
discharged by Louis XVIIFs government as Bonapartist. Back 
then to the tannery with its six days of obscure labor, followed 
by a seventh day largely spent strutting the byroads with the 
Legion's ribbon in full view. Shortly after Louis's birth, the 
tanner moved his family to Marnoz and then to Arbois. 

Here Louis began his primary education. The teachers found 
him unusually slow, indecisive, quiet, inclined to dream, and his 
mediocre work suggested that he would never achieve the tan- 
ner's ambition for him to be a professor at College d'Arbois. 
He demonstrated a talent for sketching, however, and spent his 
rime painting the local landscape and the portraits of his relatives. 
But Father was persistent and, in 1838, Louis was sent to the 
Lycee Saint-Louis in Paris for secondary training. There he 
suffered the bitterness of exile until, consumed by nostalgia, he 
was fetched by his father, who was too kind to permit the suffer- 
ing to continue. 

Back in Arbois he returned to painting, but the humiliation 
of his failure in Paris cast its shadow on the painting, which soon 
became associated with his shame. Moreover, the striking kind- 
ness of his family (for he was never berated for his failure) in- 
spired him to achieve a success pleasing to them, and he seems 
to have veered toward science as the field where prestige was 


most likely to be won. He returned to school after several months 
in Arbois, but this time to the College royal de Besangon, only 
thirty miles from home. 

Pasteur received the Bachelor of Arts degree in August, 1840, 
and hoped to go on to the Ecole normale to prepare for second- 
ary teaching. Meanwhile, however, a sudden enrollment increase 
at Besan^on opened a new instructorship in mathematics, and 
he was offered the position in recognition of his personal and 
moral qualities and despite the fact that he had not had a brilliant 
academic record. During the months that he taught mathematics, 
he began preparing himself to take examinations for the Bachelor 
of Science degree, but a simultaneous outburst of interest in 
literature may partly account for the poor showing he made when 
examined by the Dijon faculty in 1842. He was granted the de- 
gree and even permitted to take entrance examinations for the 
Ecole normale, but the results were so poor that he returned to 
the Lycee Saint-Louis for a few months* preparation before enter- 
ing the Ecole normale in 1843. 

Here his interest in science was sharpened. His enthusiasm, 
tenacity, and tendency to work too hard pleased his mentors as 
much as it distressed his family. The professors regarded Pasteur 
as better fitted for the laboratory than for the classroom and, 
accordingly, when he had finished his course work in 1846, 
begged the Minister of Public Instruction to give Pasteur an 
assistantship in chemistry at the Ecole normale and to cancel 
plans to send him as a professor to the Lyce de Tournon. The 
assistantship allowed Pasteur to continue work on his doctorate, 
while he aided Auguste Laurent, a professor from the Bordeaux 
faculty, in laboratory work on crystals. 

After Pasteur received the doctorate, the Ministry of Public 
Instruction sent him to teach at the Lyc6e de Dijon, just at a 
moment when he was engrossed in his study on crystals. Longing 
for the laboratory, he resented the amount of time required to 
prepare his courses, but after a few months the intervention of 
his Ecole normale teachers secured him a transfer to the Stras- 
bourg faculty with the tide of assistant in chemistry. 

He had been in Strasbourg only several weeks (1849) when he 

1 66 Louis Pasteur 

began negotiating for the hand of the rector's daughter, Marie 
Laurent. His resources were similar to most young academicians': 
no money, but a doctorate and a university position. Further- 
more, he had a reputation for integrity, and the previous year 
he had read a paper before the Acad&nie des sciences growing 
out of his studies in crystallography, which won him important 
praise. His future seemed bright, so that when Pasteur's father 
came from Arbois to make the formal proposal of marriage, it 
was accepted by the Laurents. 

Pasteur's associates were unanimous in qualifying his marriage 
in 1849 as supremely successful. Raised in an academic family, 
Marie could accept her husband's love for learning without re- 
sentment. She was prepared for his long hours in the laboratory, 
for his absent-mindedness, and to give uncomplaining aid when 
overwork led him into exhaustion or illness. Some of the credit 
for his brilliant career clearly belongs to her. Four daughters 
and a son were born within the next thirteen years, but between 
1859 and 1866, three of the girls succumbed. "My poor Marie," 
he wrote after the third death, "our dear children are dying one 
after the other.*' 

Pasteur continued at Strasbourg the work he had begun as a 
graduate student at the Ecole noimale. He had observed that the 
crystals of tartaric acid had tiny facets which had escaped the 
attention of the most famous crystallographers of the day. This 
observation led Pasteur to the discovery of two distinct acids. 
Having checked Pasteur's discovery, Biot, who held the chair of 
chemistry at the College de France, reported the find to the 
Acad6mie des sciences. Then, in a letter to Pasteur, the old scholar 
expressed his faith in the young chemist's future: "At my age, 
one lives only in the interest one takes in those one loves. You are 
one of the small number who can provide such food for my 
mind." In 1852, when it was suggested to Pasteur that he might 
become a corresponding member of the Acad6mie in physics, 
Biot advised against it on the grounds that Pasteur's creative 
genius lay in chemistry. The advice was taken. And the following 
year, when Pasteur finally succeeded in obtaining paratartaric 


(racemic) acid from tartaric acid, Biot used his influence to obtain 
the cross of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor for Pasteur. 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Paris similarly honored Pasteur 
with a prize of 1,500 francs. He used nearly half the money to 
buy equipment for his laboratory in Strasbourg, for at that time 
the state provided only 1,200 francs a year for all his classroom 
and laboratory expenses including the salary of his laboratory 

Pasteur's growing reputation won him a promotion in 1854 
(he was thirty-two) to be Professor and Dean of the Science 
Faculty at Lille. His initial lecture at Lille contained the following 

Without theory, practice is but routine born of habit. Theory alone 
can bring forth and develop the spirit of invention. It is especially es- 
sential that you not share the opinion of those narrow minds who dis- 
dain everything in science which has no immediate application. 

Yet, for all his devotion to theory, Pasteur was willing to de- 
rive practical results from theory and to develop theory from 
facts secured from practical researches, and often took his stu- 
dents to factories and foundries in search of problems in applied 
science. While at Lille, he tested manures at the request of the 
Departmental Council of Nord, and he went to the aid of a Lille 
manufacturer who was having difficulty producing beetroot 
alcohol. This study, which involved fermentation, led him di- 
rectly into the field where he was to make his greatest original 
contribution to knowledge to discoveries upon which all his 
later triumphs were to hinge. 

In the 1850*5 most chemists regarded fermentations and putre- 
factions as resulting from chemical changes, and rejected the 
notion that living organisms were responsible. Pasteur isolated 
the tiny globules which he found in sour milk in order to watch 
the lactic fermentation develop. He saw a multiplying such as 
he had seen in beer yeast, clearly a phenomenon related to life, 
and reported his findings to the Lille Scientific Society in 1857 
and to the Academic des sciences kter the same year. His report 

1 68 Louis Pasteur 

concluded: "The reduction of sugar into alcohol and carbonic 
acid is correlative to a phenomenon of life, to an organization 
of globules." This work won Pasteur the Academy's prize for 
experimental physiology in 1860. 

His continuing work on fermentations led him inevitably to 
challenge the heterogenesists those who believed in spontaneous 
generation. Heterogenesis was accepted generally in 1860, even 
though men like the Reverend M. J. Berkeley had more than a 
decade earlier discredited heterogenesis in accounting for the 
appearance of fungi on plants. Now that Pasteur was convinced 
that fermentation and putrefactions depended upon the growth 
of living organisms, he had to demonstrate from whence these 
organisms came. If he could show that they were in the air 
(and having read the Abb Spallanzani, Needham, Buffon, 
Schwann, and Helmholtz, he suspected this to be the case), he 
would be well along the road which led to ruin of the theory of 
spontaneous generation.^ 

"Pasteur began the microscopic examination of the air in 1860; 
he found spores and germs. Theorizing that even the most putres- 
tible liquids would remain pure if, after boiling, they were kept 
free of the dusts in the air, and realizing that the higher he went 
the purer the air would be, Pasteur went high into the Alps with 
his phiak to "bottle air" as he called it. These experiments verified 
his belief that putrescible liquids would remain pure indefinitely 
if isolated from the germs in the air; putrefaction did not occur 

In conjunction with the brilliant physiologist Claude Bernard, 
Pasteur organized another experiment. They took blood from a 
dog and, careful of its purity, sealed it in a glass phiaL The phial 
was placed in an oven heated to 30 degrees Centigrade and was 
allowed to remain there from March 3 to April 20, 1862. The 
blood suffered no putrefaction. Urine treated the same way gave 
the same result. 

The heterogenesists were by no means ready to concede that 
Pasteur was right. One group determined to verify Pasteur's 
Alpine experiment. They went high in the Pyrenees above Bagn- 
ires-de-Luchon opening and shutting their phials, but .upon their 


descent they found alteration in every phial. Their conclusion: 
that air at any altitude was equally favorable to organic genesis. 
Pasteur's evaluation of their experiments: that they had been 
careless in controlling their phials of putrescible material. 

Joly and Musset demanded that the Academic des sciences 
appoint a commission to examine the evidence, a move which 
Pasteur welcomed. The commission agreed on a date in March 
of 1864, but when the moment arrived the heterogenesists asked 
for a postponement on the grounds that the cold weather might 
affect the tests. Their request was granted; but later, when mete- 
orological conditions seemed favorable for a test, the hetero- 
genesists temporized by arguing over details of the test and ended 
by repudiating the commission. Their performance did their 
cause little good. 

Meanwhile, Pasteur began to put his ideas on fermentations 
to practical purpose. He suspected that the sourness, acidity, 
and bitterness of some wines might be caused by fermentations 
which could develop in bottled wine under certain conditions, 
and was encouraged by the Emperor to seek a remedy in the 
interest of the wine industry. He found that by keeping the wine 
at a temperature between fifty and sixty degrees Centigrade for 
a few minutes, the vitality of the "parasites" could be destroyed 
without altering the quality of the wine. Firmly corked to pre- 
vent further contamination from the air, the bottles preserved the 
wine from deterioration. 

Pasteur presented these ideas in 1864, but the viniculturists 
were reluctant to adopt new methods. The Emperor urged the 
acceptance of Pasteur's suggestions, rightly arguing that the 
export market for French wine would be greatly expanded if the 
spoilage could be reduced. His Majesty's opinion could not com- 
pete, however, with that of the gourmets, who were unanimous in 
their firm faith that heating wine would prevent it from mellowing 
with age. Pasteur had already demonstrated that mellowness 
was not associated with fermentation, but came from oxidation, 
which, if anything, would be enhanced by the brief heating 
rather than hindered. In time, of course, the wine industry 
adopted ^pasteurization' 7 as a standard procedure; meanwhile, 

170 Louis Pasteur 

Pasteur was awarded a grand-prize medal for his work on wines 
at the Exposition of 1867. 

In the same year Pasteur was more than ever conscious of the 
wretched state of laboratory resources in France, as he was 
chosen by the Minister of Public Instruction, Victor Duruy, to 
be one of a group which would show France's role in the intel- 
lectual world at the Exposition of 1867. He produced a study 
entitled Report on the Progress and Achievements of General 
Physiology in France, which ended with a plea: "French physi- 
ology demands only that which can easily be given; genius has 
never been lacking." 

The dearth of facilities was appalling. Even in the greatest 
centers of learning, equipment was far below minimum needs. 
Claude Bernard worked in a cellar at the College de France and 
was the author of the remark that "laboratories are the tombs of 
scientists." Adolphe Wurtz had an attic in the Dupuytren Mu- 
seum, while J. B. Dumas scorned the trap reserved for him at the 
Sorbonne and turned his home into a laboratory at his own ex- 
pense. Pasteur's own facilities at the Ecole normale, where he 
had been since 1857, were equally inadequate. Clearly, oppor- 
tunities for research were sadly inferior to those in Britain and 

Yet, Science had traditionally had an honored name in France 
and was really part of French civilization. The cultivated lady 
of the eighteenth century was presumably as at home in the 
audience of the distinguished lecturer on Newtonian physics 
as in a gallery gazing at a Watteau. She may have understood 
neither, but both were seemly uses of her time. But this tendency 
to make scfcncg . pan- tf culture contributed to making French 
scieace Irhftorftttral ra&er^than practical, 


in short, the dearth of laboratory facilities in 
the nineteenth century for experimentation did not necessarily 
reflect kck of interest in science. PastemLjand his friends who 
complained about jna<teqiiatf! fariljaes for experimmtariori were 
in the secondary .traction of French scienceT 

It is astonishing^SaSTtfiiese experimental scientists tarried so 
long before appealing to Napoleon m for funds. His Majesty 


had dabbled in chemistry when a prisoner at Ham and, as Em- 
peror, took keen interest in the invention of new weapons for 
the Army. Furthermore, scientists were often invited to Com- 
ptegne, where the Emperor could never resist drawing them aside 
for a chat. Claude Bernard found himself obliged to lecture the 
Emperor for two hours on physiology, and reported that his 
imperial pupil had been fascinated. On another occasion, Pasteur 
spent a whole evening explaining his ideas on molecular dis- 
symmetry and fermentation, following which the Emperor sent 
to Paris for a microscope and some samples of diseased wine. A 
second lesson was held the following afternoon with both Their 
Majesties present, and at five o'clock, when the Empress received 
guests for tea, she subjected them to a short lecture from Pasteur. 

Only in 1867, when Pasteur was compiling his report for the 
Exposition, did he appeal to the Emperor for scientific equip- 
ment. His work on fermentations and microscopic organisms, 
Pasteur explained, was leading him into new studies on infectious 
diseases and on the nature of putrefaction, and he needed a large 
laboratory with several small adjacent buildings for experiments 
which required isolation. Napoleon III responded at once by 
ordering Duruy to assist Pasteur through the Ministry of Public 
Instruction, and Duruy, who was only too glad to advance sci- 
ence, proposed to build the facilities which Pasteur had requested 
in the garden of the Ecole normale. But Duruy, who invariably 
had difficulty raising funds for his educational projects, found 
the Finance Minister and the members of the Corps 16gislatif 
indifferent to Pasteur's requirements. 

In annoyance, Pasteur wrote a letter to the Moniteur, the 
official journal, protesting the blindness of those who would vote 
credits for a glittering opera house but found nothing for a 
modest laboratory. He compared the funds available for research 
in Britain, Germany, Russia, and the United States with those 
in France and said what Wurtz would repeat some months later: 
that national strength was dependent upon the importance placed 
on the things of the mini The editor of the Monitewr feared to 
print this attack upon the government, but the letter was shown 
to the Emperor, who took the matter up with Duruy early in 

172 Louis Pasteur 

1868. They agreed that Pasteur's ideas ought to be made public, 
but for the sake of form it would be better for him to publish 
them in a pamphlet rather than in the Moniteur. 

Meanwhile, His Majesty invited a number of scientists Pas- 
teur, Milne-Edwards, Claude Bernard, and Henri Sainte-Claire 
Deville to meet with Rouher, Duruy, and Marshal Vaillant in 
the Emperor's study. Napoleon directed the discussion around 
the problem of attracting young men into pure science at a time 
when industry could easily pull them into applied science. They 
agreed that the state must create new assistantships in institutions 
like the Ecole polytechnique to encourage students to take re- 
search training and to go into teaching. Furthermore, money 
must be found for research (the Ecole des hautes 6tudes, more 
fully discussed in the chapter on Duruy, was founded in July of 
1868), and Pasteur was promised action on the facilities he had 
requested. Duruy was able in 1868 to provide a small sum to 
begin their construction, and additional money was given by 
the Emperor out of his household budget. 

Pasteur had stayed at Lille, where he began his work on fer- 
mentations, only three years. In 1857, feeling that he had revital- 
ized the science faculty there, he let it be known in Paris that a 
similar rejuvenation was in order at the Ecole normale. The 
Minister of Public Instruction agreed, and transferred Pasteur 
from Lille to Paris. The Ecole normale possessed only one labora- 
tory, and it was occupied by Sainte-Claire Deville, whom Pasteur 
refused to disturb. Instead, he devised his own laboratory in the 
attic and proceeded with his work. 

The same year, a vacancy occurred in the Acad6mie des 
sciences. Several of Pasteur's friends urged him to stand for 
election, which he did, though confident he would be beaten. 
His fear was confirmed, and he was only elected to the Acad6mie 
in 1862 when Senarmont's seat fell vacant. By then, Pasteur's 
work was better known; but, even so, he received only thirty-six 
of the sixty votes. In the meantime he had the pleasure of seeing 
his old friend Biot, who had been a member of the Acad6mie des 
sciences for fifty-four years, received by the Academic f rangaise. 
It was a triumph for this man of science who had always taught 


that scientists should be literate. "Their science/' he said in his 
reception speech, "was not the more apparent through their 
want of literary culture,'* 

Pasteur, meanwhile, having demonstrated to his own satisfac- 
tion that fermentation is a process of life rather than death, and 
that life does not generate spontaneously, was prepared to believe 
that diseases in animals and in man result from the growth of 
microorganisms within the host. Furthermore, if the organisms 
which ruined wines could be controlled, why not the organisms 
causing animal diseases? But however logical it was for Pasteur 
to drift from ffninfnt^tioniJBto tht? gftimjfc^ory of disease, he 
cannot, be. giy<jjtgdjggdLW3^"^"g 
ley in Britain and Anton de Bary in France, among others, had 
concluded that diseases are caused by living microorganisms, but 
their work has been overshadowed by Pasteur's because they 
worked on the diseases of plants. 

Nor was Pasteur the first to see bacteria, for Leeuwenhoek 
had seen bacteria through his microscope as early as 1683. Yet 
the knowledge of bacteria up to Pasteur's time had lagged 
behind the knowledge of the microorganisms associated with 
plant diseases, perhaps because the bacteria belonged to a "second 
order of smallness." Pasteur recognized that destructiveness was 
not related to size and, in his work on silkworms, offered support 
for the view that animal disease, too, is caused by a parasite. 

The old scientist J. B. Dumas, a Senator in 1865, brought the 
silkworm epidemic to Pasteur's attention and begged him to 
work on the problem. The disease had made its first appearance 
in 1845 during the reign of Louis-Philippe, when the silkworm 
industry was worth one hundred million francs a year. Now, in 
1865, Pasteur was aghast at the sight of the poverty in the C6- 
vennes district and its deserted mulberry plantations* The tiny 
pepper-like spots on the silkworms had appeared first here, 
spreading then to Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and China* By 
1865 healthy seed (eggs) was available in Japan alone. 

A serious outbreak of cholera in the same year momentarily 
occupied Pasteur's attention. With Bernard and Sainte-Claire 
Deville, he tried to find a cure for this dread disease, but their 

174 Louis Pasteur 

experiments were unsuccessful. In the late autumn the epidemic 
subsided, and Pasteur returned to consider the silkworm problem. 
The Ministry of Agriculture financed a five-month study under 
his direction, and Duruy, as Minister of Public Instruction, pro- 
vided academic leaves of absence for professors selected by Pas- 
teur as his assistants. 

They settled down to observe the silkworm's metamorphosis, 
noting that the black spots first appeared in the chrysalis stage. 
Their first conclusion was that the problem could be handled by 
hastening the maturity of a few cocoons in a given nursery by 
raising die temperature. The new moths would reveal the con- 
dition of the lot, and infected moths meant the destruction of 
the batch of cocoons. Healthy seed, meanwhile, was presented to 
Napoleon III by the Japanese government and in turn was dis- 
tributed to the sericulturists in the southern departments. The 
scientists hoped that the use of healthy seed and the destruction 
of infected cocoons would combine to wipe out the disease. 

Their disappointment was great when the carefully controlled 
development of healthy worms did not completely eliminate the 
difficulty. They began the examination of dying worms, which, 
being spot-free presumably should have been disease-free. 
Only then did Pasteur and his assocktes discover the presence of 
foreign, microscopic bodies in the worms: they were dealing with 
an infectious disease which could attack the worms, the eggs, the 
chrysalises, and the moths. They identified the malady as the 
wilt disease, sometimes called the flacherie disease. 

Pasteur then emphasized that it was not enough to check the 
chrysalises, but that contaminated eggs must also be destroyed. 
He suggested the following method of control: when the moths 
from apparently healthy chrysalises emerge from their cocoons, 
separate the females from the males as soon as mating has taken 
place. Each female moth is to be placed on a square of linen where 
she will lay her eggs, following which she is to be pinned to the 
same linen, where she dies. When completely dried, she is then 
moistened and pounded into a paste for observation under a 
microscope, and if the microscope reveals the least trace of the 
disease corpuscles that batch of eggs must be destroyed burned. 


In the late spring of 1868, Pasteur returned to the south of 
France to observe the results of his work. Those sericulturists 
who had accepted Pasteur's diagnosis of the disease and who 
were applying his proscribed treatment were having success. 
The majority of sericulturists, however, had the provincial's 
distrust of anything newfangled, and suffered accordingly. Their 
reluctance to adopt the new methods was exploited by the seed 
merchants, who slandered the Pasteur cure because it was injuri- 
ous to their business. 

Eighteen sixty-eight was, in fact, the beginning of a time of 
troubles for Pasteur. In the midst of his anxiety resulting from 
the conservatism of the sericulturists, he found a student revolt 
on his hands at the Ecole normale. The trouble began when 
the unquenchable Sainte-Beuve lectured the indifferent Senate 
on freedom of thought and literary expression. The students of 
the Ecole normale, through one of their number, congratulated 
Sainte-Beuve, and the congratulatory message was published. 
As Universite regulations prohibited students from engaging in 
political action, the student who had written the letter was ex- 
pelled, whereupon his fellows demonstrated in his support. The 
government replied by reorganizing the institution, removing the 
director as well as the students. Pasteur was transferred to the 
Sorbonne as Professor of Chemistry. Duruy was upset that Pas- 
teur had been at all involved and, himself approving the students' 
position, he saved the expelled student by placing him as a teacher 
in the College de Sens. 

Then in October of 1868, shortly after Pasteur had read a 
treatise by an Italian scientist to the Acad&nie des sciences which 
seemed to verify his views on the silkworm, Pasteur was stricken 
with a cerebral hemorrhage. "I am sorry to die," he said to Sainte- 
Qaire Deville; "I wanted to do much more for my country." 
But he did not die. All scientific Paris waited day by day for news 
of his improvement, and a messenger came daily from the palace 
for information. As his mind remained clear, he dictated further 
thoughts on the silkworm problem. Ultimately he became aware 
that the government had halted the work on his laboratory in 
the expectations of his death, and his bitterness was apparent. 

ij 6 Louis Pasteur 

Hearing of it, Napoleon III wrote to Duruy; 'Tie has been much 
affected by this circumstance, which seems to point to his non- 
recovery. I beg you to issue orders that the work begun should 
be continued." 

As the weeks went past, Pasteur was able to get about slowly 
and to receive callers, but the stroke left him partially paralyzed 
on the left side. The forearm was bent and contracted, the fingers 
locked into the hand and could not be opened, and he dragged 
a stiff left leg in a slow, difficult walk. Three months after the 
stroke, he insisted on going south again to oversee the work on 
silkworms; and though he suffered a fall which retarded his re- 
covery, Pasteur was heartened to find his theories confirmed 
by a good crop of silkworms in 1869. 

Pasteur, confident that he had demonstrated the correctness 
of his method of controlling the silkworm disease, was con- 
founded by the failure of the sericulturists to rally instantly to 
the truth. In his annoyance, he found a new ally in Paris, Marshal 
Vaillant, who had become interested in the silkworm problem 
and had organized his own silkworm nursery in the heart of 
the city. Because Vaillant was eager to give Pasteur further op- 
portunity to prove himself he arranged for Pasteur to go to an 
imperial estate near Trieste called the Villa Vicentina. This 
estate, originally belonging to Elisa Bonaparte and her daughter, 
Princess Bacciocchi, had been willed to the Prince Imperial. The 
property was planted with vines and mulberry, but disease had 
ruined the silkworms. 

Napoleon III gave the half paralyzed Pasteur permission to 
occupy the estate for the double purpose of convalescence and 
of revitalizing the silkworms. He arrived in November of 1869 
and immediately introduced his method of controlling the hatch- 
ing of eggs. The results were spectacular: the property, which 
had not shown a profit for ten years, earned 22,000 francs in the 
first year that Pasteur's method was used. 

But Pasteur continued to be troubled. In 1870 it was the war 
and the sight of young students enlisting for service including 
his own eighteen-year-old son and Duruy's three sons which 
affected Pasteur profoundly. Upon the insistence of his family, 


he went to the old family home in Arbois during the war, and 
there he brooded over the news from the front. The defeat, how- 
ever it stung him, was no surprise, for he had foreseen disaster 
arising from a half-century's neglect of science and learning, 
from the failure to invigorate and expand the public schools. 

In January, 1871, Pasteur read that the Prussians had bom- 
barded the Museum of Natural History in the course of their 
siege of Paris. Despairing and angry, he wrote to the Dean of 
the Medical Faculty at Bonn, expressed his respect for the faculty, 
but asked permission to return his doctorate in medicine which 
had been granted him by Bonn in 1868. It was his protest against 
the "barbarism of the German Emperor." The answer from Bonn 
was an expression of the Faculty's "complete contempt" for 
Pasteur, who had insulted the German nation as personified by 
the "sacred Emperor." 

Perhaps it was Pasteur's postwar bitterness which led him to 
aid the French beer industry, generally recognized as inferior 
to that of Germany. He demonstrated that beer could be pre- 
served by a method similar to that used to preserve wine. By 
heating bottled beer to a temperature of fifty or fifty-five degrees 
Centigrade, the development of disease fermentations could be 
avoided. The adjective pasteurized was coined by the botders 
of beer, though the process was first used by the wine industry. 

Despite the increasing acceptance of Pasteur's views on fer- 
mentations by the beer and wine industries of France, many 
scientists still refused to accept the principle of biogenesis, and 
the Acad6mie des sciences debates were seldom free from anger 
and antagonism. Pasteur's own good humor, his usual tolerance of 
contrary opinions, and his innate kindness began to wear thin 
after 1870 in the face of what appeared to him to be a perverse 
determination to ignore tie demonstrated truth of his position. 
If the brewers accepted the notion that ferments are organisms 
which cannot be born spontaneously, why not his colleagues in 
the Academic? 

But if Pasteur lost his temper in debate, he did not lose his 
compassion for humanity. Moreover, the loss of three daughters 
to disease encouraged him to work in that realm where his ex- 

178 Louis Pasteur 

periments on fermentations and the silkworm disease were 
logically leading him. And perhaps the most sickening aspect of 
the war for Pasteur was his certain knowledge that many of the 
wounded died because of the medical scientists' refusal to accept 
a germ theory of disease. He began regretting that he was a 
chemist and not a physician, for chemists were held in low esteem 
by the medical profession. Who then would lead the blind? The 
answer came to him as a surprise: his election to the Academy of 
Medicine in 1873. 

He found himself, of course, amid the alien corn. A brave 
physician named Villemin, who dared to rise in the Academy of 
Medicine to state that tuberculosis was a disease which repro- 
duced itself and could not be produced any other way a specific, 
contagious, and inoculable disease was hooted down by the 
distinguished assembly. If the physicians could not learn from one 
of their own, a chemist could hardly expect to be heard. Then, 
in February, 1874, came a letter from Joseph Lister to prove that 
Pasteur was not without honor in Britain: 

Allow me to take this opportunity to tender you my most cordial 
thanks for having demonstrated to me, by your brilliant researches, 
the truth of the germ theory of putrefaction, and thus furnished me 
with the principle upon which alone the antiseptic system can be 
carried out. 

Pasteur was not, of course, without honor in his own country. 
The assistance he had given to the wine, beer, and silk industries 
was recognized and appreciated, and in 1874, when Pasteur de- 
cided to relinquish his post at the Sorbonne because of his paraly- 
sis, a bill was presented in Parliament to provide him with an 
annuity for life equal to his salary at the Sorbonne. This pension 
(12,000 francs) was voted by an overwhelming majority. Nine 
years later, Parliament by unanimous vote raised the pension to 
25,000 francs, to be payable also to Pasteur's widow and children. 

Meanwhile, Pasteur began to experiment in the realm of animal 
disease, where others were already at work. The microbe causing 
chicken cholera had been recognized in 1869 by several men 
sympathetic to Pasteur's theories. He obtained a culture of their 


microbes in the hope of finding some way to protect chickens 
against the disease. Pasteur knew, of course, of Jenner's use of 
cowpox vaccine in order to immunize against smallpox, but in 
that treatment a benign disease was induced in order to protect 
against a serious disease. Pasteur began to inoculate hens from a 
new culture of chicken cholera microbes; they all died quickly. 
Then he noticed that hens inoculated from an older culture of 
the microbes became ill but they recovered. If reinoculated 
with a new culture, they showed resistance to the disease. Pasteur 
quickly recognized the analogy with Jenner's earlier work: 
immunity from a dread disease could be achieved by inoculating 
with a vaccine made from the attenuated microbes of the same 
disease. This discovery was a major contribution to medical 

Pasteur began work on anthrax in 1877, a disease which killed 
hundreds of sheep annually in France and which often spread to 
other animals and even to men. Other scientists, Davaine in 
particular, had found anthrax bacteria in the blood of dying 
sheep, but had failed to prove conclusively that these bacteria 
were the cause of the sheep's death. Pasteur first found that it 
was possible to develop a culture of the bacteria from one drop 
of a dead animal's blood and that the bacteria were capable of 
rapid reproduction. He then demonstrated that some of the earlier 
experiments had failed because blood had not been taken from 
sheep newly dead. In such instances the blood would contain not 
merely the anthrax bacteria, but also putrefactive bacteria; and 
this blood, if inoculated into a rabbit, would kill the rabbit effi- 
ciently enough but from the growth of the putrefactive bac- 
teria in the blood. The putrefactive bacteria, as they grew in 
the bloodstream, destroyed the anthrax bacteria. The experi- 
menter would then be confounded by the absence of anthrax 
bacteria in the rabbit, when he knew full well that the blood of 
the dying sheep had contained them. Accordingly, Pasteur was 
careful to take blood only from newly dead sheep, and in this 
blood examination revealed the presence of the anthrax bacteria 
As for the development of a vaccine against anthrax, a 

180 Louis Pasteur 

Toulouse veterinarian named Toussaint announced a discovery 
in 1880. He claimed that if blood containing the anthrax bacteria 
was either filtered to remove the bacteria or heated to fifty-five 
degrees Centigrade for ten minutes to kill the bacteria, the blood 
itself would become an effective vaccine. Pasteur was highly 
skeptical, because he could not understand how such a vaccine 
could produce an immunity. He tested Toussaint's work and 
found it unsatisfactory. 

Pasteur then proceeded along the track that had brought him 
success in treating chicken cholera. The problem was to develop 
a method of attenuating the virulence of the anthrax bacteria. 
Early in 1881 he announced to the Acad6mie des sciences that 
he and his assistants had discovered a formula for controlling the 
virulence of the bacteria: by keeping the bacteria in a broth at 
a higher temperature than was normal for development, their 
virulence decreased day by day making possible a vaccine of 
controllable virulence. In his report, Pasteur also noted that the 
weakened bacteria could be restored to their original virulence 
through successive cultures in small animals. 

The Society of French Agriculturists awarded Pasteur a medal 
in 1881, but their confidence in him was not shared by many 
scientists. A few, like the physician S6dillot, not only recognized 
the soundness of the germ theory of disease, but understood that 
the theory was forcing a medical revolution. The notion that 
diseases generated spontaneously was no more tenable than the 
idea that ferments generated spontaneously, but it met similar 
resistance. It was Sedillot, incidentally, who suggested the word 
microbe to describe disease germs; and when Rossignol, an editor 
of the Veterinary Press, wished to ridicule the whole germ theory 
of disease he used the word microbiolatry. 

Confident that Pasteur was wrong, Rossignol demanded that 
the anthrax vaccine be given a public demonstration. A demon- 
stration was arranged by the Agricultural Society of Melun for 
April, 1882. Pasteur was given sixty sheep by the Society for 
the experiment. He began by inoculating twenty-five of the 
sheep, giving them a second shot after two weeks. Then, on May 
jist, the twenty-five were given an inoculation of virulent vac- 


cine, as were twenty-five sheep which had received no prior 
inoculations of the attenuated vaccine. 

A rendezvous was set for June 2nd, when the results would be 
known. Pasteur, usually confident and calm, suffered a momen- 
tary siege of anxiety. He did not lose faith in his theory, but 
realized that the tests might not have been properly controlled. 
On the morning of June 2nd, however, a throng of farmers and 
scientists found the twenty-five sheep prepared by Pasteur for 
the test healthy and normal; but the other twenty-five, which 
had not received the attenuated vaccine, were dead or dying. 
Even Rossignol congratulated Pasteur for his "stunning success." 
Already a Chevalier in the Legion of Honor, Pasteur was now 
raised to be a Knight Grand Cross in the Legion of Honor, but he 
accepted the honor only on condition that his collaborators, 
Chamberland and Roux, be made Chevaliers. 

Pasteur did not initiate the germ theory of disease. Properly 
speaking, the development of the chicken cholera vaccine was 
one of Pasteur's two critical innovations. The other was his 
demonstration of biogenesis. The method used in obtaining the 
chicken cholera vaccine served as a model for the discovery of 
the subsequent vaccines; and this work was based on the germ 
theory of disease, which in turn was based on the concept of 
biogenesis. Developing the vaccines against chicken cholera, 
anthrax, and the rouget disease in 1882, of course helped to force 
the medical profession to accept the germ theory of disease. After 
Pasteur's demonstrations and his vigorous lectures before the 
Acad6mie, only the willfully blind could fail to see that a revolu- 
tion in medicine had taken place. 

When Pasteur had demonstrated that spontaneous generation 
was not necessary to explain what happened in his experiments, 
why did so many scientists persist in defending heterogenesis? 
One can suggest that the doctrine of spontaneous generation had 
a significance for its believers which transcended chemistry and 
biology. The materialists of the nineteenth century rarely shrank 
from embracing ideas hurtful to the Church or to religion, but 
even Darwin's theory of evolution so distressing to proponents 
of literal interpretation of the Scriptures could not provide 

1 82 Louis Pasteur 

any ultimate aid and comfort to the materialists. In itself, Evolu- 
tion did not deny or disprove some sort of First Cause, but the 
notion of spontaneous generation was clearly subversive to the 
idea of Divine interference. When Thomas Henry Huxley, the 
zoologist and evolutionist, announced in 1870 that he could not 
point to any instance when an organism had been produced with- 
out parents, the heterogenesists were further undermined and 
from an unexpected quarter. 

Most French scientists in the mid-nineteenth century were 
materialists; therefore, the doctrine of spontaneous generation 
se&ncLboth logical and desirable to them, and their minds were 
not prepared to accept the newer notion of biogenesis. Pasteur, 
on the other hand, was a Christian. Consciously or otherwise, 
he was hostile to the idea of spontaneous generation. 

Questions asked of Pasteur and his answers reveal that non- 
scientific considerations were at stake. He was asked, for example, 
from whence had come the first germ. He replied that this was 
a mystery which was beyond the realm of science, because it 
concerned the origin of all life. Nor could he prove that sponta- 
neous generation had not taken place sometime in the prehistorical 
past, which gave the heterogenesists some satisfaction; but he 
continued to assert two points: that he was solely concerned with 
phenomena which Science can demonstrate, and that the fermen- 
tations which took place in his phials derived from biogenesis 
and not from spontaneous generation. 

Pasteur's importance, however, does not rest on his innovations 
alone. He believed in biogenesis before he had demonstrated the 
soundness of biogenesis in the laboratory; similarly, he uqder- 

^ the key.Js> attacking 


* This was theTfSTnieasure of his genius. His laboratory 
work remains a supreme example of the experimental method. 
His experiments were directed toward proving theories he held 
before the experiments began, and he was not a blank slate, so to 
speak, objectively piling up data in a laboratory in the expectation 
that the data would coalesce into a discovery. 

In his later years Pasteur became increasingly obsessed with a 
desire to conquer hydrophobia, a disease which inspired a particu- 


lar horror in him and which Renan had hopefully predicted that 
Pasteur would conquer. He failed to find the microbe which 
produced rabies in dogs, but he became convinced that a mad 
dog's brain was a better source than its saliva for obtaining the 
microbes. He then began to cultivate the unseen microbes in the 
brains of live rabbits, until he produced a microbe whose viru- 
lence was greater than that found in the usual rabid dog. 

Next, Pasteur turned his attention to attenuating the virulence 
of the microbes. He found that by drying a bit of a rabbit's me- 
dulla kept in a glass phial at a constant temperature of twenty- 
three degrees Centigrade, the microbe's virulence disappeared in 
two weeks. If the medulla was then crushed and mixed with 
water, it provided a vaccine which gave dogs immunity to rabies. 
A commission was formed in 1884 by the Ministry of Public 
Instruction to test Pasteur's discovery, and it verified his results. 

The work was not complete, however, as it was impractical 
to try immunizing all the dogs in France, whose estimated number 
was 100,000 in Paris alone with another two and a half million 
in the provinces. Pasteur wanted a vaccine which would protect 
people after they had been bitten by rabid dogs, as it was proba- 
ble that many dogs would escape immunization. But how (fid one 
test vaccine on human beings? Pasteur proposed to the Emperor 
of Brazil, who had expressed great interest in Pasteur's researches, 
that perhaps criminals condemned to death might be induced to 
volunteer for experiments. It happened, however, that the deci- 
sion to inoculate a human being was forced upon Pasteur before 
he had become reconciled to the idea. 

yln 1885 a nine-year-old Alsatian boy, Joseph Meister, was 
oftten badly by a rabid dog. His mother brought him to Pasteur 
for treatment. Pasteur, of course, did not know whether the 
vaccine -which gave dogs immunity to rabies would protect the 
child or even a dog -if administered after a bite. He consulted 
with other scientists and physicians, and the consensus was that, 
as the child was doomed in any event, Pasteur should proceed 
with the inoculations. The first inoculation was made with the 
two-week-old matter from the rabbit's medulla which had en- 
tirely lost its virulence. The subsequent shots and there were 

184 Louis Pasteur 

twelve were steadily increased in virulence. Pasteur suffered 
terrible anxiety during the treatment until it became clear that the 
boy would survive. 

The battle against hydrophobia had been won, though, as some 
patients were brought to Pasteur too late to be saved, die treat- 
ment's efficacy was challenged for a time by a few physicians. 
In gratitude for Pasteur's work, the Comte de Laubespin pledged 
40,000 francs in his desire to establish a hydrophobia control 
center in Paris: the Institut Pasteur. A gift of 43,000 francs came 
from Alsace-Lorraine, little Joseph Meister being one of the 
subscribers. Then the Russian government gave 100,000 francs 
in gratitude for the treatment Pasteur had given nineteen Russian 
peasants who had been bitten by a rabid wolf. They had been 
brought to Paris from the province of Smolensk so that two 
weeks had transpired before treatment began; three were beyond 
help, but Pasteur saved sixteen. In addition to the money for 
the Institut, the Czar presented Pasteur with the Cross of the 
Order of St. Anne. 

Though one remembers Pasteur for his triumphs in scientific 
research, he often thought of himself as a teacher, and worried 
about the inadequate public school system. At his earlier teaching 
posts, he was not regarded as a skillful teacher, but by the time 
he got to Ulle his lectures were considerably more polished. 
That he resented the time lost to the laboratory there is no doubt, 
but he also recognized the importance of good teaching. His 
desire to serve education better led him to stand for the Senate 
(1876) in the Department of Jura. The departmental electoral 
college, however, paid him the compliment of suggesting that 
France could not afford to lose so valuable a citizen to the Senate. 
Receiving sixty-two of the 650 electoral votes, he ran last in a 
field of five. 

More appropriately, he was elected to the Acad&nie frangaise 
in 1 88 1. From his eighteenth year Pasteur had maintained an 
interest in French literary matters. Even during his busy years 
at the Ecole normale, he never missed a lecture by Sainte-Beuve 
and once was heard to remark that in Science the mind alone is 
necessary, but that in Literature "both the mind and heart inter- 


vene, accounting for its [Literature's] superiority in leading the 
general train of thought." He owed his election, of course, to 
the literary excellence of the volumes describing his research and 
not to his love of literature. 

At the Academic frangaise, Pasteur took the chair of Littr6, 
a Positivist whose philosophy had always been distasteful to 
Pasteur. Years earlier, Sainte-Beuve and Pasteur had discussed 
supporting a young scientist, Charles Robin, for a seat in the 
Academic des sciences. Robin was known as a disciple of Auguste 
Comte, and Pasteur remarked that, having himself read "a few 
absurd passages" from Comte, he hoped that Robin's scientific 
work would not be influenced by his philosophical prejudices. 
Pasteur summed up his opposition to Positivism in his introduc- 
tory speech at the Academic: "Positivism does not take into 
account the most important of positive notions that of the 

Pasteur's last honor came on his seventieth birthday, December 
27, 1892. Delegates from learned academies and societies both 
French and foreign joined with the diplomatic corps in the 
Sorbonne theater to greet the distinguished scholar. He entered 
the theater on the arm of President Sadi Carnot and, amidst an 
ovation from the audience, was embraced by the English surgeon 
Joseph Lister. Pasteur's emotion was so great that he could not 
respond to the audience, and his brief speech was read by his son. 

Pasteur was loved for more than his contributions to knowl- 
edge. He was known for his gratitude for his family's kind in- 
dulgence when he was a shy, uncertain adolescent, for his devo- 
tion to his old teachers and his academic friends, and for his 
kindly nature which had always made him unwilling to engage 
in academic quarrels or answer his critics. Later in life, it is true, 
he became a more aggressive publicist for his ideas, but only be- 
cause his humanitarianism overcame his natural reticence. Each 
day counted in his campaign to end human suffering. His sensi- 
tivity was such that hospitals filled him with horror, and for all 
his scientific disinterestedness he was usually ill after post-mortem 
examinations, so much did he hate the sight of corpses. In this 
light, the attacks of the antivivisectionists upon Pasteur were 

1 86 Louis Pasteur 

particularly vicious, because they implied that he took pleasure in 
the injections and operations. No one could have taken less pleas- 
ure in them than he; they were an unpleasant necessity in the 
interest of mankind. 

Pasteur had suffered partial paralysis since 1868, but only in 
the last several years of his life was his speech affected. An attack 
of uremia in late 1894 was nearly fatal, but he recovered to sur- 
vive another eleven months. He died on September 28, 1895, 
surrounded by family and disciples, but completely paralyzed and 
mute at the end. He was given a state funeral at Notre-Dame, and 
only one address, by Raymond Poincar6, the Minister of Public 
Instruction, was allowed. The body was pkced in a tomb at the 
Institut Pasteur, and over the entrance to the tomb one finds the 
words: "Blessed is he who bears a god within himself, an ideal of 
beauty which he obeys: the ideal of art, the ideal of science, the 
ideal of the fatherland, the ideal of the virtues of the Gospel." 

Victor Duruy 


I think that all religious ideas are merely 
symbolical; but 1 think the scone of the 
ideas of science and even of the senses: so 
that the way is cleared for faith, in de- 
ciding 'which set of symbols one 'will 


1 88 Victor Duruy 

Ihe man who was to become one of Napoleon Hi's most able 
and controversial ministers was born on September 10, 1811, in 
Gobelins, the celebrated tapestry quarter in Paris. The Duruy 
family had lived in Gobelins since the reign of Louis XIV, when 
Colbert had induced them to move from Arras in his effort to 
stimulate the Parisian tapestry industry. In the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries, the family had been Protestant, though by 
Victor's time this tradition had been lost. For generations after 
Colbert, the boys of the family learned their fathers' skills, and at 
the age of twelve Victor began his apprenticeship. 

The previous year, however, he hadhbeen sfcnt to study with a 
man named H&ion, who was an outspoken liberal, a Bonapartist, 
and an anticlerical, who taught young Duruy that the Bourbon 
Restoration was really a victory for the Church and for those 
rather feeble souls who required religious escape. This lesson 
harmonized with sentiments expressed at the Duruy home and was 
readily accepted by the boy. But H6non also gave him a taste for 
books, leaving him miscast as an apprentice. A family friend, an 
economist at the College Sainte-Barbe, intervened, and in 1824 
Duruy was enrolled at die College, even though inadequately pre- 
pared. To the end of his days, Duruy was conscious of his family's 
sacrifice. They were poor, so poor that Victor could not have 
travel money to go home on vacation days. And they sorrowed at 
seeing the family tradition broken, as there had been only one 
other defection since the seventeenth century an uncle who 
had served Napoleon I rather than art. 

Owing to his industry, Duruy surmounted his slow start at the 
College and soon did well in Greek, Latin, and history. He grad- 
uated in 1830 (just in time to see the Bourbon monarchy over- 
thrown in July), and on August ist he began his entrance tests for 


admission to the Ecole normale, where he hoped to become a his- 
tory professor. The examination results were not known for six 
weeks, and Duruy was determined to enter military service in 
Algeria should he fail. But he passed and thus spent the next three 
years under Michelet, Burnouf, Jouffroy, and Ampere. He was 
certified in history in September of 1833 and appointed the next 
month to a professorship at the College de Reims. 

This appointment did not make Duruy a college professor in 
the American sense, but a teacher in a secondary school French 
educational terminology is often confusing and requires explana- 
tion. Primary education in France is roughly equal to our first 
eight grades. Secondary education, the next six years, includes 
our high school and junior college training, and these schools are 
designated as either colleges or lycees. The graduate of the second- 
ary school may then proceed to a professional school on the 
university level, as in the case of Duruy at the Ecole normale. 

In the time of the First Empire and in the anticlerical spirit of 
the eighteenth century and the French Revolution Napoleon I 
created the Universit6 de France, which was the public school 
faculty, and which taught in the name^of the^state in primary, 
secondary, and professional schools. The~Minister of Public In- 

OthoTufteaching orders did exist, of course, but they were obliged 
to limit their work to parochial schools. Under the Bourbon 
Restoration governments, there was real danger that the Univer- 
sit6 would be abolished and the Church put in control of public 
education, but as anticlericalism was strong the Restoration 
governments were obliged to bide their time. 

Duruy found Reims isolated and provincial, but he loved the 
teaching. Upon his arrival, he discovered that a philosophy pro- 
fessor had been nourishing a running batde with a physics pro- 
fessor on the subject of miracles. In his classes he avoided politi- 
cal and religious issues, which he regarded as transitory matters 
and, therefore, foreign to the verities which ought to constitute 
scholarly instruction. In addition, he thought that teachers, as 
state officials, ought not to serve political or religious factions. 

Less than six months after his arrival at Reims, Duruy was 

190 Victor Duruy 

promoted to a school in Paris, Henri IV. Two of the King's sons, 
the Dues d'Aumale and de Montpensier, were enrolled, and the 
school needed a better history instructor. He began his work 
on March i, 1834, and soon found the Due d'Aumale to be a 
superior student. Duruy gave him extra work at the Tuileries in 
the winter and at NeuOly in the summer. In this way he came to 
know the royal family and to admire in particular the Due 
d'Or!6ans. Later in life, Duruy said that he was convinced that 
the Due d'Or!6ans, had he lived past 1842, would never have 
sanctioned the domestic policies which brought down the House 
of Orl6ans in 1848. We get a glimpse of Duruy's philosophy 
when he says that the Due knew 

that society is a collection of constantly renewing individuals, that 
ideas modify, interests change, that nothing on earth is immutable, 
that yesterday's policy cannot always be tomorrow's. History re- 
veals that evolution is the kw of the social world. 

During the second year at Henri IV, Duruy began writing 
books for a distinguished member of the Institut de France, for 
which he received half the royalties, and he began work on his 
own Roman History. He spent ten years in the preparation of 
the first two volumes of this work, which appeared in 1843-1844. 
They were well received by the academic world and brought 
Duruy to the attention of the Comte de Salvandy, then Minister 
of Public Instruction. Salvandy was always eager to promote 
promising professors, and he arranged to hive Duruy decorated 
by the state. Furthermore, he had Duruy promoted to be the 
second-ranking history professor at Saint-Louis (1845). 

Duruy believed that aU men ought to take stock of themselves 
and their beliefs midway in life. In his own case, he was thirty- 
six when he set himself to the task and began by writing a motto: 
"All intellectual life has truth and justice as a goal" He then 
proceeded to depict a philosophy which is a curious mixture of 
eighteenth century rationalism, skepticism, and classicial idealism. 

Recognizing man's physical limitations, he suggested in an 
essay that there are also limits to human intelligence, and con- 
cluded that man's intelligence by itself is insufficient to know 


God. Moreover, "man would even be more than God if he could 
analyze and define Him." Despite the futility of searching for 
God, Duruy noted that Western man had been retarded until 
the sixteenth century when he had awakened to more profitable 
research. "How long have the devil, astrology, alchemy, magic, 
and religions with their conceptions of the divine, their miracles, 
and their mysteries kept peoples and science in bondage? " 

Like many of his contemporaries, Duruy equated religion and 
fear. Man is born quite defenseless and is surrounded by frighten- 
ing objects and phenomena; "he trembles and prays." To prayer 
he soon adds the sacrifice; "thus, he creates a cult." Finally, men 
of superior knowledge range themselves between the crowd and 
the fearsome: "the priesthood." But happily for modern men in 
the scientific age, reason explains all phenomena and man ceases 
to be fearful. Explains all except God, of course, but He is not a 
proper subject for human reasoning as He is beyond understand- 

Duruy felt his views were summarized in a line from Corneille: 
"Tend to your own work and leave the gods alone." But while he 
might say with Montaigne, "What do I know?" he would con- 
tradict himself by asserting that everything in the universe has 
its kw, and "laws suppose a legislator. . . . It is essential to recog- 
nize God as a Prime Mover and supreme organizer, but . . . He 
reigns and does not govern." Man's proper work, wrote Duruy, 
is to strive for a human ideal on earth, where man is the supreme 
being. The ideal will vary according to time and place; and, 
significantly enough, he wrote, "Morality is a thing which in- 
creases in proportion as intellectual life grows." Salvation was, it 
would seem, to be achieved on earth through education. 

MojSjusidseljzvJhu^^ education. 

Duruy felt that humanity had not surpassed the Greeks or He- 
brews in morality, nor Homer, Pericles, Plato, Aristotle, or 
Moli&re in intelligence, nor the physical strength of the Greeks 
and Romans. Progress, then, was dependent, in his view, upon 
making "knowledge, morality, taste, and well-being the property 
of a greater number. Man has been given powers; it is our duty 
to develop them." This was an honorable ideal and one which 

1 92 Victor Duruy 

Duruy spent his life promoting. If, in his enthusiasm for educa- 
tion, he was prone to equate literacy with culture, we must 
remember that his notion of what constituted an education was 
a rigorous introduction to the history, philosophy, science, and 
fine arts of Western civilization. 

As Duruy was by choice a historian, it is natural that his self- 
appraisal suggested a philosophy of history. He thought that 
historians ought to be most concerned with the ideas and motives 
which have guided the world, as they give us the truest apprecia- 
tion of past societies. Furthermore, this approach makes us feel 
keenly how much of the past there is in the present. "The ideas 
of yesterday," he wrote, "are a useful rein on today's ideas in 
that they prevent us from plunging too swiftly toward those of 
the future." Obviously Duruy was not reactionary, nor was he 
enthusiastic for novelty just for the sake of change. 

He believed that society is subject to the same "leveling law" as 
the physical world. Mountains wear down and their debris fills up 
the valleys. Similarly, he said, aristocracies slowly melt back into 
the people, while slaves rise toward more freedom. Echoing an 
Hegelian idea, Duruy noted that every forward step in'mankind's 
existence had been toward freedom, and that in the nineteenth 
century it was no longer a question of smashing bastilles but of 
bringing a higher standard of living to everyone. He was quick 
to add that though it was right to bring greater ease to every- 
one, it would "mutilate human nature" to establish any sort of 
economic or social equality, for Nature, if she did not create 
slaves, did not make men equal in mind or body. 

Rather than work to make the proletariat disappear, Duruy 
favored reducing its size, just as Science works to reduce physi- 
cal ills without ever expecting to see them entirely removed. As 
property is the accumulation of the fruits of man's labor, it is 
a legitimate extension of individual freedom. "To touch one 
would be to destroy the other." This was his answer to the social- 
ist doctrines of the day which, he claimed, were incompatible 
with the laws of nature. 

At the same time, Duruy knew that an industrializing France 
faced serious social questions which would require concessions by 


those who "possessed" and moderation by those who wished to 
possess, and his recommendation for the future was only common 
sense given the circumstances: "Henceforth, let the bourgeois 
consider the workers as one of the means to his own good for- 
tune and allow them to earn a greater share of the profits." The 
vision of women and children dying of hunger on the doorsteps 
of sumptuous houses haunted Duruy, and he thought it high 
time that the people of means be instructed in their charitable 
obligations at the same time that they learned of their own true 

The February Revolution of 1848 occurred shortly after Duruy 
had completed his philosophical r6sum6. He was hostile to the 
"unwholesome utopianism" of many of the Republicans and 
angry that Louis-Philippe's ministers, Guizot in particular, had 
not known how to prevent the uprising. When it came to the 
presidential elections, he voted for General Cavaignac as an honest 
man who had saved France from further radicalism during the 
June Days. Poor Cavaignac, of course, was swamped by a heavy 
majority for Louis-Napoleon. 

Soon after the elections Duruy completed work on the third 
and fourth volumes of his Roman History. The earlier volumes 
had appeared in 1843-1844, but he was hesitant to publish the 
later volumes owing to the fact that he openly sided with the 
Roman Empire against what he called the "false Republic." He 
had characterized the latter as an oligarchy of one hundred 
families who gnawed on the bones of sixty million men. Fearing 
to encourage a new Caesar, the one he had voted against in 1848 
(historians commonly suffer the illusion that their works will be 
influential), Duruy put his manuscript in a drawer from which it 
did not emerge until 1872. 

In the second year of the Republic, 1 849, there was an opening 
in history at the Ecole normale, and Duruy expected the appoint- 
ment. But Falloux, a Legitimist, was the Minister of Public In- 
struction, and Duruy's liberalism made him unacceptable. Despite 
this disappointment, Duruy decided to promote a project which 
he had anticipated beginning upon his arrival at the Ecole normale. 
Long annoyed at the uncritical, styleless, boring history texts 

Victor Duray 

used in the schools, he recruited thirty professors and outlined 
sixty volumes which would survey the history of civilized man. 
The plan, which included histories of literature, the arts, and the 
sciences, was entitled: Universal History Published by a Society 
of Professors and Learned Men, Under the Direction of M. 
Victor Duruy. 

In addition to directing the project, Duruy agreed to produce 
one volume on Greek history and two volumes on French history. 
His Greek History appeared in 1851 and won him a scolding by 
the administration of the Universit6. The Ministry of Public 
Instruction was dominated by men of conservative opinion, and 
they held that Duruy was wrong in preferring Athens to Sparta. 
Here is Duruy's summary of the Ministry's position: "Sparta, 
representing the principle of authority, must be exalted; Athens, 
having had the bad taste to grant too much liberty, must be con- 
demned by History, despite Pericles's century." 

Duruy's position as a member of the Universit6 continued to 
be uneasy as he opposed the coup <?ttat of 1851 and voted against 
Louis-Napoleon in the plebiscite which amended the constitution. 
But Duruy did not feel obliged to resign his teaching post, for 
though he was a state official he had always believed that his 
professional work transcended daily politics. He was determined 
to stay on as long as no one prevented him from giving his opin- 
ion or forced him to say what he did not think. Perhaps it is a 
commentary on the dictatorship of Napoleon IE for the Repub- 
lic gave way to Empire in 1852 that Duruy never felt himself 

There were, to be sure, academic quarrels with political over- 
tones. TWny Trmn Ironwn fo he ^heral and anticlerica^ and, being 
partisan himself, was therefore subject to partisan reviews of his 
books. His two-volume History of France was published in 1853, 
and it was no surprise that it received a bad review in UUnivers, 
the conservative Catholic journal. The review was written by 
the Abb6 Brulebois, who scored Duruy for the "rashness and 
inaccuracy" of his interpretations and insisted on the suppression 
of several passages, notably one relative to the Civil Constitution 
of the Clergy. 


If this response had been foreseen, Duruy was considerably 
less prepared to have the official journal of the Ministry of Public 
Instruction take its cue from the Abbe Brulebois and suggest that 
corrections were in order. This official criticism was never sent 
directly to Duruy, and he was aware that the government did not 
plan to pursue the matter. The incident was, in fact, an illustration 
of the government's policy of simultaneously pleasing all the 
major factions in the nation. 

The new Emperor- was_eager-o^ov~-one -o~&e main theses 
in the Napoleonic Legend: that the Bonapartes alone were above 
f acrion^and hence^cpuld govern in the genergLjnterest. In the case 

of rhirny'ft hnnfogj th<*. gnjrrnm*n+ VH ^hr^^Tt th* Cflth^fP? fl 

sop by appearing to adopt the line suggested in VUnisiers and 
expected to satisfy the liberals by never moving in the fiiiwHon 
of censorship or suppr^o^ Behind such a smoke screen of 
appearances, the Emperor promoted his real policies, and whether 
the policies were noble or infamous, wise or stupid, such a 
governing technique must inevitably produce confusion, mis- 
understanding, and lack of confidence. 

Duruy, however, could not be placated by the failure of the 
government to censor or suppress his texts, as he had received 
publicity injurious to his professional reputation. It was bad 
enough, he wrote to the Universit6 administration, to have 
received only one promotion in twenty-three years of laborious 
service. Was he now to tolerate a sort of excommunication for 
the pleasure of the conservative Catholics, "who will always be 
no matter what they do the enemies of the government?" In 
response, the Ministry assigned an inspector general named La- 
ferrifcre, a man of moderate Catholic views, to examine Duruy's 
book. Laferrifere thought well of the book and suggested only a 
few alterations all of them "nuances and not points of doctrine." 

Duruy, quite naturally, expected to be vindicated, but he waited 
in vain for the ministerial pronouncement. The following year, 
1854, he called on the Minister, then Fortoul, and discovered 
some misunderstanding. It is possible that Fortoul never bothered 
to read Laferri&re's report or had just been shown the negative 
sections. After some confusion, Duruy was assured that the re- 

1 96 Victor Duruy 

port had indeed been favorable, whereupon Duruy promised he 
would comply with Laferriere's suggestions in his next edition. 
After something under two years, he had cleared his reputation 
and could continue teaching with a peaceful conscience. 

Indeed, it seems likely that Duruy would have completed his 
days in professorial obscurity had it not been for an aggrieved 
Marshal of France who required the services of a historian. Mar- 
shal Randon was removed as Governor of Algeria in 1 859 to make 
room for Prince Jerome-Napoleon, who took a new tide: Min- 
ister of Colonies. The Prince, a strong supporter of Napoleon's 
Italian policy, was thus officially thanked, and Randon, who had 
never been enthusiastic for the Empire, paid the price. (He had re- 
signed the Ministry of War in 1851 to avoid participation in the 
coup <Tfrat.) 

Shortly afterward the Emperor discovered that Marshal Vail- 
lant's preparations for the coming war against Austria were in- 
adequate, revealing him a poor administrator; having a spare mar- 
shal, Napoleon removed Vaillant and named Randon the Minister 
of War. Even so, Randon did not consider his record in Algeria 
vindicated, and he hoped to flatten the government with a literary 
salvo. Duruy and Randon were introduced, and Duruy, who 
knew the futility of paper wars against the impersonal agencies of 
government, persuaded the Marshal to surrender the idea of 
polemics in favor of an account of his record in Algeria. Duruy 
would write the pamphlet, Randon would furnish the source 
materials, and it would be signed by one of the Marshal's aides. 
As a simple historical task, Duruy was glad to set the record 
straight, and he noted in his MSmoires that he received no com- 
pensation as if to prove that he had written history. 

One day when Randon was waiting on the Emperor, he noticed 
Duruy's Roman History on the Emperor's desk. When Napoleon 
entered, Randon remarked that he knew the author. Napoleon 
then asked Randon to arrange an audience for the following day. 
If one will remember that this was 1859, the year in which His 
Majesty pondered the most critical foreign and domestic deci- 
sions of Ms reign, and will then visualize him sphinx-like in a chair, 
smoking cigarette after cigarette with his mind riveted on Julius 


Caesar, one will get a characteristic picture of the man. He lived 
a double life: he had to govern, to meet the exigencies of his 
supreme political position, and yet he felt compelled to persist 
in his life-long habit of developing the rationale for caesarean 
democracy. That he had become Caesar was not enough; he was 
also, as Duke Ernest of Saxe-Coburg remarked, a German savant. 
The two roles are not always compatible. 

It is difficult to say how long Napoleon III had seriously con- 
templated writing a history of Julius Caesar. Maxime Du Camp 
tells us that one week before the coup <T6tat of 1851, Morny 
arranged for Napoleon to see photographs which Du Camp had 
taken in Egypt and the Near East. In retrospect, Du Camp noted 
that Napoleon had been especially interested in monuments and 
ruins relating to Caesar, and there is evidence that Napoleon 
thought of the project while still a prisoner in Ham. Now, in 
1859, he was at work, and he sat down in his study to chat with 
Duruy in a manner so informal that Duruy forgot his host's rank 
and held forth on the insecurity of the Roman emperors: 

I claimed that the first Caesar, while founding royalty, had not 
established a monarchy. The emperors did not have the support of 
the noble and priestly classes of monarchical states, nor were they 
supported by the institutions of free societies. Thus, they were ex- 
posed to ambitious schemers. In order to seize sovereign power to 
become a god on earth only one chest needs to be pierced, and from 
Augustus to Constantine, it was pierced forty times. 

Once outside, Duruy began to question the tact of his remark 
about the forty assassinated Emperors and concluded he had been 
a better citizen than a courtier. Marshal Randon later assured him, 
however, that the Emperor had reported him an intelligent man, 
adding that he had not agreed with Duruy on all points. 

In January of i8<$o, Duruy was summoned by Gustave Rouland, 
who had been Minister of Public Instruction since 1856. The 
Council of State was about to discuss the Roman Question (see 
the chapter on the Due de Persigny), and Rouland wanted some 
notes on the subject in order to seem informed. He gave Duruy 
four days to prepare a memorandum, which, when completed, 

198 Victor Duruy 

recommended the following solution: to limit the Papacy to the 
Vatican, the Pope to receive ambassadors from the Christian 
nations, and a civil list to be provided by all Catholic countries, 
each paying in proportion to its population. Duruy noted that, 
thus constituted, the Papacy would benefit "by being despoiled 
of its governmental troubles, despoiled of the cheaper, less spirit- 
ual, aspects of government." 

Several days later, Rouland ordered Duruy to publish his 
ideas, suggesting that they had received imperial approval- He 
was granted four more days to polish the memorandum into 
literature, but in the meantime the plebiscite in Romagna pro- 
duced union with Sardinia, and the brochure became dated. It 
was published under another name to avoid any association with 
the University. The Emperor had first assumed that the ideas had 
been Rouland's, and it is not clear who informed His Majesty 
of the true author. 

In 1 86 1, however, a senior inspector generalship fell vacant, 
and when Rouland nominated an old man of merit, Professor 
Chruel, Napoleon ordered Duruy's name substituted. Rouland 
immediately suspected that Duruy was undermining him at the 
Tuileries. To smooth over the situation, Duruy offered to accept 
a lesser position at the Ecole normale, which carried with it an 
inspector generalship at the Academy of Paris, the Sorbonne. The 
inspector generalship was regarded as a sinecure by the Ministry 
and was handed out to make the professorship at the Ecole 
normale more attractive financially. This will explain why the 
Minister was surprised to receive a schedule of reforms for the 
Sorbonne, which Duruy compiled in 1861, and why nothing 
came of his proposals. 

In July, Marshal Randon again approached Duruy, requesting 
that he review the curricula in military schools. Duruy spent a 
week at La Fl&che, and his recommendations were quite accep- 
table to the Ministry of War and were deemed applicable to 
Saint-Cyr as well Once again Rouland's jealousy was aroused, 
and he accused Duruy of insulting the Army. Marshal Randon, 
thoroughly annoyed at such pettiness, ordered that Duruy be 
sent a letter of commendation for the "active, devoted, and dis- 


interested part" he had taken in furthering the necessary reforms. 
Thus armed, Duruy fired back at Rouland: 

I have been offering you, M. le Ministre, a friendly, resolute, and 
active cooperation. . . . When one has spent one's life as I have 
in looking for what is right for others, it is quite proper to seek it for 

In February of 1862, Duruy was nominated to a newly vacated 
inspector generalship, and coining after his tiff with Rouland, 
there was no doubt that the Emperor had interfered. The new 
post required Duruy to be absent from Paris four months out of 
the year and meant that he had to give up his chair at the Ecole 
normale. Coincidentally, however, the Ministry of War created 
a chair of history at the Ecole polytechnique as one of the cur- 
riculum reforms, and Duruy was offered the position with the 
understanding that his courses could be arranged to suit his in- 
spection schedule. 

He proposed to avoid the usual survey course in French his- 
tory and to offer the students a course in the history of traditional 
European problems. Noting that these students would have al- 
ready had three or four years of French history in lycee, he 
suggested that it would be to the national interest to provide 
them with a broader education worthy of their eventual positions 
of influence. Furthermore, a study of traditional problems should 
lead to a consideration of recent events and even current prob- 
lems. It was part of Duruy's philosophy of education that formal 
instruction in contemporary affairs could help to heal the faction- 
alism left by the French Revolution, to produce what he called a 
"reunification" of the French in putting country above party. 

Fragments of Duruy's opening lecture at the Ecole polytech- 
nique express his educational philosophy: 

What an immense realm is that where imagination and thought are 
queen, where the poet and artist search for beauty, the moralist for 
justice, and the historian for truth. It includes your realm, Gentlemen, 
and it goes farther; for beyond the nebulae whose distances you 
calculate He the unfathomable depths of infinity, which are pene- 
trated by the mind's eye alone, and that other infinity for which your 

200 Victor Duruy 

Laplace has no use God. . . . The Humanities do not give man an 
increased power over matter but give him greater justice, purify his 
heart, raise his spirit, captivate his imagination and taste, and, finally, 
make him a man. . . . 

Extreme division of kbor produces marvels in industry and sci- 
ence, but only a few gifted people escape the dangers of narrow 
specialization, and the system acts to reduce the value of man. Even 
the most fruitful land becomes exhausted by bearing the same crop. 
Rotation conserves and promotes the original vigor. . . . 

Two and two are four in mathematics, but not always in life, in 
art, or in morality. Outside the exact sciences, truth is often a mix- 
ture of the true and the false. . . . Greek architecture, the world's 
best, represents the triumph of the straight line. Yet, do you Gentle- 
men know one of the reasons for the powerful impression which the 
bare Parthenon dismantled and ruined still produces? Not one of 
its lines is rigorously straight; not one of its surfaces is rigorously flat. 

In short, Duruy told his audience that education means learn- 
ing what it is to be a man among men, and he warned them 
against an indifference to individual responsibility. His study of 
history had taught him that every fault, every error, every 
crime had been punished, though he noted that justice had often 
confused our notions of individual responsibility: 

If k has been said, "Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind," it is true 
that the one who gathers the miserable harvest is not always the 
reprehensible sower. . . . In the organic world, nature cares not for 
the individual; let him live, prosper, or fail She reserves all her solici- 
tude for the species. There is an analogous law in the moral world. 
The individual is neither immediately nor always rewarded or pun- 
ished, but Society unfailingly is. 

Meanwhile Duruy began his inspection trips. At Lorient, he 
found the naval cadets studying only technical subjects, and an 
admiral seriously objected to the narrow curriculum on the 
grounds that it had never prepared him for the actual duties of 
a naval officer. 

In my entire career, I have not had to use one-hundredth of the 
mathematics that they took so much trouble to teach me. But con- 
stantly I have had reports to write, memoranda to draw up, men to 


lead, important administrative matters to resolve, and even to carry 
on negotiations. Newton's binomial has been perfectly useless for all 
that, and I should have been lost twenty times had I not undertaken 
the general education of my mind after my schooling. 

Duruy was reasonably certain that his recommendations to Rou- 
land that the Army educational reforms be copied were never 
passed on to the Navy. 

At Coutances, a town in Manche, Duruy watched a boy who 
was twice the size of his classmates struggle hopelessly with his 
Greek and Latin recitation. His father had done well enough in 
butter and cows to allow the boy to take advantage of public ed- 
ucation. As Duruy watched the unhappy boy, he realized that 
the state was wrong in trying to provide the same instruction 
for all children. While never supposing for a minute that voca- 
tional training was true education, Duruy understood the state's 
obligation to provide special schools for those not able to benefit 
from the traditional courses. This boy would ultimately return 
to the farm provided, to use Duruy's remark, with no other agri- 
cultural instruction than a smattering of Greek roots. He did not 
forget the incident, but put it aside for the moment. 

Duruy had to do more than criticize curricula and visit class- 
rooms. Bursars' books, dormitories, and kitchens were his realm 
also, and it was only now that he realized the deplorable state 
of scientific equipment available in the schools. On top of this, 
Napoleon III, after more than two years of silence, wrote on 
February 27, 1862, to ask what proof existed for the following 

I submit that the greatness of a man's genius can be measured by 
the duration of the influence which survives him, that is, the influ- 
ence of ideas which he has made triumphant and which still prevail 
long after he has ceased to exist. 

Duruy answered that the proposition was incontestable and 
that, in the case of Caesar, one could see his influence on all sub- 
sequent Roman government. The ultimate collapse of the Roman 
Empire, he suggested, was caused by the failure of the later em- 

202 Victor Duruy 

perors to complete the reform of taxes and provincial administra- 
tion begun by Caesar and to centralize the Empire. The death of 
the Empire was not caused by bad morals, fiscal problems, soldiers, 
or slaves, he wrote, but by bad politics, a poor constitution of 
power, and faulty organization of the state. "Caesar would have 
known how to prevent this." 

His Majesty had completed a draft of his two volumes on 
Caesar and was working on the Preface when he sent Duruy the 
above question. The Preface deserves attention, for in none of 
Napoleon Ill's written work is there such specific evidence of 
his sincere belief in the Napoleonic Legend. He writes of Caesar 
but slips into generalities about superior men: 

When the extraordinary facts attest to an eminent genius, what is 
more contrary to good sense than to assign him all the passions and 
sentiments of mediocrity? What is more false than not to recognize 
the preeminence of these privileged beings who appear from time to 
time in history as beacons, scattering the shadows of their epoch and 
lighting the future? In addition, to deny this preeminence would be 
an injury to humanity. 

The Preface ends with a frank admission of the writer's purpose: 

My goal is to prove that when Providence creates men such as Caesar, 
Charlemagne, and Napoleon, it is to trace out the path which the peo- 
ples must f ollow, to mark a new era with the impact of their genius, 
and to fulfill several centuries' work in a few years. Happy are the 
peoples who understand them and follow them! Misfortune to those 
who misunderstand them and resist. They are like the Jews: they 
crucify their Messiah. . . . 

Napoleon's ostracism by Europe has not prevented the resurgence 
of Empire, though we are far from the resolution of great problems, 
the appeasement of passions, and the legitimate satisfactions given to 
the peoples by the First Empire! 

Every day since 1815, this prophecy by tie captive of St. Helena 
has been verified: "How many struggles, how much blood, how many 
years will still be required until the good which I desire for humanity 
can be realized!' 9 

Palace of the Tufleries, March 20, 1862. 


The next communication from the Emperor was an invitation to 
spend a week at Compiegne in November, but Duruy was fright- 
ened at the prospect and invented excuses. Then came a message 
from Mocquard, Napoleon's secretary, asking Duruy to recom- 
mend someone as an assistant. Mocquard was getting old and was 
in poor health, but as Duruy inferred that he was being asked to 
recommend a scholar, he volunteered his own services from four 
to seven o'clock each day. It appeared that Mocquard had nothing 
but secretarial work to be done, and as Napoleon quickly es- 
corted Duruy out of Mocquard's office it is evident that the im- 
perial author had chosen this subterfuge to gain some professional 
criticism. Duruy was presented with the draft of the History of 
Julius Caesar and his opinion required. 

As anyone who has had occasion to criticize a manuscript can 
attest, Duruy had been assigned a necessary if often thankless 
task. And when the manuscript was the property of the Emperor, 
in a nation where teachers were civil servants, Duruy might have 
been excused for likening the volumes to Thucydides. The aston- 
ishing thing was that Napoleon III, still respected by Europe as 
the vanquisher of Russia and Austria, was a friendly, gentle, 
quiet man. He allowed complete freedom of language in his 
presence, so that Duruy dared give the criticism his professional 
integrity demanded. 

He found in the first volume, for example, the following sen- 
tence: "One can legitimately violate legality when society is 
running to ruin and a heroic remedy is indispensable." It was 
clearly a paraphrase of a sentence which had appeared in Napo- 
leon IIFs proclamation to the French on the morrow of the coup 
d?6tat of 1851. Duruy advised omitting the sentence: "One does 
things like that, but it is best not to recall their memory.'* And he 
protested against the theory of providential men, which he found 
in the Preface, on the grounds that it made "God an accomplice 
in realms where He does not mingle.*' 

Duruy spent a few hours a week at the Tuileries for nearly 
three months and then left for his annual inspection tour. He 
did not write to Napoleon, preferring to be as obscure as possible. 
For the Emperor had made Mocquard a Senator, a certain indica- 

204 Victor Duruy 

tion that Mocquard was preparing to retire and that a new secre- 
tary would be recruited. Duruy feared himself to be a candidate, 
and thus we may gauge his surprise to receive a telegram from 
the Ministry in Paris: "It appears that you are our Minister." 
Duruy in Moulins thought it an error, but when the Prefect of 
Allier rushed in to congratulate him, Duruy knew it to be true. 

In deciding to accept the office, Duruy tells us that he did 
so with a clear conscience. The Emperor knew that he had op- 
posed the coup <?6tat, that he was a liberal and an anticlerical, and 
even the quality of his historical work. His nomination specifically 
mentioned that henceforth the Ministry of Cults would be sepa- 
rate from the Ministry of Public Instruction, and Duruy believed 
this to be another lil^eral sign. Perhaps, in taking office, he could 
support tfaejevelopment of a truly liberal government^ Further- 
more, Napoleon 111 was oifering him free leia within, the Minis- 
try (he never received any specific instructions from the Em- 
peror), and the recent inspection trips had suggested many neces- 
sary reforms. His appointment as Minister was dated June 23, 

Rouland, now former Minister, was furious, and regarded 
Duruy's appointment as clear evidence that Duruy had been 
sabotaging him at court. To prove his good faith, Duruy helped 
Rouland to get the governorship of the Bank of France, but Rou- 
land never got over his bitterness. There were others, however, 
who were pleased by the appointment, if somewhat startled, for 
Duruy had no political influence, no official ambition, and he was 
not well known even in academic circles. His colleagues rated 
him a substantial scholar, but not a brilliant one. Yet the pro- 
fessoisjgmJre-e&eased if"Tiicy^wereji^ghted to see oae of their 
own risetohead the Universal, a postalmost always held "by a 
politic}; * or once, academic problems wouM take piecedence 
ovci* politics; for once, the Minister would be an able champion 
of public education, as he had devoted his life to its basic princi- 

Duruy's educational program and the opposition which it 
aroused must be studied with two points in mind. The first is 
that France had never had an uncontested tradition of the separa- 


tion of State and Church; indeed, traditionally they were united, 
and hence state-supported education and religious training were 
not widely regarded as incompatible. The second factor is that 
the secular spirit characteristic of modern life which made the 
separation of Church and State, religion and education, inevitable 
had been gathering momentum since the later Middle Ages, as 
the intelligentsia increasingly lost faith in a religious ideal and 
in Revelation as the means to the most profound truths. 

As this evolution progressed, science became more physical 
and less metaphysical, and the quest for heavenly salvation gave 
way to demands for a more pleasant existence on this earth. By 
the late eighteenth century, the secular forces became politically 
dominant in France, and when Napoleon I established the Uni- 
versite, putting education in the hands of laymen, he defined the 
battle lines between the old and the new. In the nineteenth cen- 
tury, and in particular during Duruy's regime, the clerical forces 
fought a rearguard action in defense of the old definitions of a 
good life and of salvation. When Maxime Du Camp wrote that 
"education is indeed the salvation of humanity," he was echoing 
Duruy's views, for the latter believed that religion had little 
ameliorating effect on the-general morality -af mankind. 

Having received no formal instructions from the Emperor, 
Duruy wrote to Napoleon on August 6, 1863, outlining the 
principles which he intended to pursue. First of all, primary 
education must become obligatory for all as a logical consequence 
of universal suffrage, and the early years must be sufficiently rich 
to encourage students to proceed to secondary schools. 

Next, the secondary schools must always work "to develop 
the mind and purify the taste of our future industrial popula- 
tion" before they teach the practical use of the hands. Third, 
there should be a special classical secondary education available 
to the children of the wealthier classes, who, owing to birth or 
fortune, will fill the professions. "Let us assure them the greatest 
and most fertile cultivation of the mind through letters, science, 
philosophy, and history. . . . The people rise; let the bourgeoisie 
not stand still." Finally, there was the problem of educating girls, 
whose training had been left to the clergy. 

206 Victor Duruy 

When Duruy took office in 1863, the resources for French 
education were deplorable. Primary schools were universally in- 
adequate, and more than a thousand communities had none at all 
Secondary schools catered to the upper classes alone; there had 
been virtually no attempt to meet the educational requirements 
of an industrializing era. On the university level, the quality of 
teaching had progressively declined, except in medicine and law, 
until a professor's success was measured in his platform perform- 
ance rather than his learning. He generally lectured once a week 
on minor points of his special interest, and it was no wonder that 
students were rarely made to feel the thrill of academic investi- 
gation. And should a student develop scholarly tastes, a shortage 
of equipment in the schools hampered his advancement. If literacy 
does not necessarily indicate culture, it at least suggests educa- 
tional opportunity, and as late as 1857 one-third of the men called 
up for military service could not read or write. 

Why had French education come to such a point? If a people 
who had traditionally esteemed the things of the mind, and who 
had always been in the vanguard of creative thought, were negli- 
gent in keeping their educational system vigorous, it is evidence 
that they were not sufficiently occupied with meeting the prob- 
lems of the moment and the future. Once again we see the mark 
of the French Revolution, which, failing to regulate the political, 
social, and financial problems paralyzing late eighteenth century 
France, lived on to transfix the nineteenth. Such is the heritage of 
any great upheaval which unsettles the traditional values and 
ideals holding a community together. There can be only limited 
forward movement until the wounds are healed and the com- 
munity spirit resolidified. That so much Bonapartist propaganda 
had attempted to equate Bonapartism with the national interest 
and all other parties with selfish or limited interests reveals that 
the disunion was recognized and caused alarm. 

It is significant that there was a strong current of patriotism in 
Duruy. If he wanted reform of the educational system, it was 
because "the greatness of France is my religion," and aside from 
his views on religion which made him hostile to the Church, 
Duruy was her enemy because he considered her indifferent to 


French nationalism. One of the less well known patriotic and 
anticlerical aspects of Duruy's program was his attempt to prop- 
agate the French language in regions where a local dialect pre- 
vailed. In Brittany, Alsace, Lorraine, the Basque country, and 
Flanders, the clergy persisted in teaching the catechism in the 
local dialect, and when the Bishop of Cambrai defended the 
practice by saying that French was the vehicle of all bad ideas, 
the issue was clearly defined. It was a Kulturkwnpf a decade be- 
fore Bismarck's, but it never became the paramount educational 
issue of Duruy's administration. 

His work was made more complicated by the Falkmx Lamof 
1 850, whicb is more fully discussed in the chapter on Montalem- 
bert. ItJs ironical that the, re action against the Napoleonic Uni- 
versite was legislated^ not under the Bourbon Restoration, but 
duringjdiejecond Republic* The Law of 1850 permitted clergy- 
niSfto teachln pubHcprimary schools, so that it was no longer 
enough for the anticlericals to increase the number of students 
attending public schools. They had to weed the clergymen from 
public education and replace them with laymen. 

There were two religious orders devoted to primary educa- 
tion: the Congregation of the Brothers of the Christian Doctrine, 
dating from the seventeenth century, and the Congregation of 
the Brothers of Mary, which had been authorized by the govern- 
ment in 1825. By 1860 they taught about 20 per cent of the pri- 
mary students in France, nearly 500,000 pupils. Oddly enough 
as rural France was regarded as the Catholic stronghold the 
Brothers were predominant in many industrial centers, excepting 
Paris and Le Creusot. The Law of 1850 had given municipal 
councils the right to hire either clerics or laymen as teachers, and 
in the industrial centers the employer-dominated councils usually 
favored hiring the Brothers. It was not their solicitude for Chris- 
tian teaching that dictated the choice, but the fact that the Church 
was opposed to socialism. 

If Duruy was given a free hand by Napoleon HI to expand 
popular education, the imperial mandate did not cut down the 
formidable opposition to the reforms which Duruy envisioned. 
Convinced that there was a tie between an enlightened mind and 

208 Victor Duruy 

salvation, Duruy insisted that primary education must be free 
and become every child's right the family's obligation. Second, 
he would abolish religious instruction from all state schools. 
Abolition would have meant a certain exodus from the schools, 
unless Duruy were able to legislate compulsory education in the 
public schools. If the Church did not share Duruy's faith in the 
remedial possibilities of literacy, it was nevertheless an embarrass- 
ment to be apparently arguing for illiteracy when the issue was 
really religious instruction. 

French intellectuals, having for the most part lost faith, were 
amused at the discomfiture of the Church. They did not, however, 
necessarily rally to Duruy's support, as many of them were 
Republican. Since 1860, when the Empire began to veer toward 
liberalism, the government became more conscious of the need to 
reconcile the intelligentsia. The latter kept aloof, however, as 
the government did not make a clean break between Church and 
State. It would be an error to suppose that all antidericals were 
antigovernment, but the -..alliance of rcpnhlJGn.nhm nmt .imirlrr 
icaMsnusgas traditional. In short, many antidericals were delighted 
with Duruy's program but held back from an enthusiastic support. 
Then Guizot, an Orleanist and a Protestant, spoke out against 
compulsory primary education. According to him, to make it 
obligatory for a father to send his child to school was a tyran- 
nical demand; it was a violation of the laissez-faire doctrine and, 
hence, threatened the liberty of the individual. Worse, it could 
lead to the destruction of the family by reducing the parental 

These arguments were eagerly adopted by most conservatives, 
even though they, represented the liberal tradition of laissez 
fdre, for conservatives and liberals were as one when confronted 
with the Jacobin part of Bonapartism. The great majority of the 
Ministers and the members of Parliament were decidedly con- 
servative. They had voted for Napoleon HI because they feared 
revolutionary movements, and if they valued education for them- 
selves they feared a learned proletariat With such an opposition, 
the Emperor forced Duruy to move slowly. It was typical of 
(Napoleon Ifl that he met opposition with 


views were part of an inviolable doctrine, which could not be 
surrendered, and he employed the remedy of rime to make un- 
popular policies more palatable. 

The popularity of compulsory education was questionable, 
though Duruy always assured the Emperor that it would be well 
received. Recent studies suggest that workers in the industrialized 
centers and rural areas were reluctant to send their children to 
school, as the demands of farm and factory came first. The greed 
of the parents did not alone produce this attitude; some employers 
hired parents only on condition that their children be available 
to work during periods of increased production. 

It is ironical that those who argued that compulsory education 
would destroy the family were themselves contributing to its 
destruction. Workers' children had traditionally received what 
little education they got from their mothers. When mothers went 
to the factories, there was no time for teaching. Even if the 
children were sent to primary schools, their attendance was con- 
ditioned by the seasonal demands of manufacturing. Finally, if 
industrialization did not increase poverty, it brought out the 
evils of a concentrated population. Factory conditions promoted 
debauchery, and more often than not a debauched worker meant 
a neglected child. 

Only the workers in the smaller towns were, as a group, en- 
thusiastic for free and compulsory education. The worker who 
kbored in a small shop took better care of his children and, in 
fact, often had fewer of them to guarantee that they would have 
the benefit of an education. Furthermore, he was less subject to 
night work than the factory workers and could take advantage 
of evening courses for adults. Employers, who feared an educated 
laboring force, were known to keep employees late into the 
evenings to prevent their attendance at these courses, which were 
sponsored by the Universit& Such employers represented the 
dominant tendency in French capitalism during the Second Em- 
pire: the new, feverish industrialists who cared for nothing but 
increased production and sales. 

But it is also possible during the Second Empire to see a second 
disposition among a smaller group of industrialists. They had 

210 Victor Duray 

recovered from the initial fever of expansion and began to con- 
sider their employees as professionals, often concluding that the 
improvement of the employee would ultimately boost production. 

Thrg-grrmp nf JndmtrifllJst'g ffreeJDnniy snppnrt, urged more 

vocational training, and sometimes even established night schools 
for their employees. It was probably not a coincidence that this 
group of employers favoring an increase in educational facilities 
were often either Saint-Simonian or Protestant The Saint- 
Simonian cult was industrial utopianism, and the Calvinist 
branches of Protestantism, from their earliest days, had valued 
literacy for the purpose of Bible reading. Furthermore, the 
Protestants and Saint-Simonians hoped Duruy could remove 
religious instruction from the schools. 

It is only right to emphasize that few employers fell into this 
second category of a more enlightened labor policy. There was 
a group of Protestant industrialists in Alsace, who campaigned 
for compulsory primary education; the spinning-mill owners of 
Cond6-sur-Noireau (Calvados), all Protestant, championed the 
cause of ky teaching in the schools; classes for adults were estab- 
lished at the Schneider Works in Le Creusot and by Pierre Dorian 
for his workers in Pont-Salomon (Haute-Loire). Both Schneider 
and Dorian were Saint-Simonians. Their support, however, was 
insufficient to permit Duruy and the Emperor to ignore the heavy 
opposition to educational reform. 

Meanwhile, Duruy was obliged to nominate professors to 
several vacant chairs, and his appointments were applauded or 
condemned according to the dictates of religious and political 
affiliation. He inherited the Renan problem from Rouland's ad- 
ministration. Ernest ^eaao^was Professor of Hebrew at the 
College de France, and stated during his first lecture that Jesus 
was a man and not divine. Since he had previously published this 
opinion, his belief was no surprise, but Rouland had secured 
Renan's word that he would not use his classroom as an arena for 
bouts of dogma. He had been appointed to teach language and 
literature alone, and when he crossed the frontier into religion 
the Catholic outburst was instantaneous. It was another example 


of the government's attempt to walk a path which would please 
all parties, and which ended by pleasing no one. The Council of 
Ministers agreed that Renan must resign, and Duruy had to fill 
the empty chair. 

He was embarrassed by the situation, to say the least. It was 
disagreeable to succumb to the wishes of the Catholics, and yet 
Duruy had always opposed bringing religious arguments into 
the schools. He found himself obliged to concur in Kenan's dis- 
missal while sharing Kenan's opinions, and in the hope of 
achieving a compromise he offered Renan a position at the Im- 
perial Library. The professor refused the gesture by writing 
and publishing a letter to Duruy which contained the words of 
St. Peter to Simon the Sorcerer: "Thy money perish with thee." 
The Catholics proposed their own candidate to fill Kenan's chair, 
but Duruy had the last word. He appointed Salomon Munk, a 
Jew and a leading Hebrew scholar. 

The second controversial professor was Hippoij^eJCikie. He 
believed that all things are determined by a sequence of causes 
which are entirely independent of man's will; furthermore, he 
regarded as valid only positive, observable facts, and rejected 
speculation. Taine's determinism and positivism were illustrative 
of the Realism of his time, and his appointment to Saint-Cyr 
in 1863 and to the Ecole des beaux-arts in 1864 only increased 
Catholic anger. 

If the Church rightly calculated the degree of irreligion among 
the intellectuals, the distinction between irreligion and anticleri- 
calism was often lost in the heat of polemics. The most prominent 
Republican newspapers and Deputies men like Jules Simon 
and Jules Favre professed great respect for Christianity, but 
as anticlericals they were attacked as irreligious. The loudest 
Catholic voices, like the most offensive of the anticlericals, were 
the extremists. Each side put its worst foot forward, giving the 
educational battle the appearance of a choice between atheism 
and medievalism. When the Bishop of Montauban could write 
that "minds are bring corrupted by detestable modern doctrines," 
and when the Bishop of Orl6ans could announce that the re- 

2i z Victor Duruy 

cent floods and cholera epidemics were punishments sent to 
halt the progress of irreligion, they merely confirmed suspicions 
that the Church was an anachronism. 

The Syllabus errorum, published by Pius IX on December 8, 
1864, likewise injured the educational cause of the French Catho- 
lics. Among the many "errors" of the nineteenth century 
nationalism, naturalism, socialism, communism, and freemasonry 
the Pope proclaimed that "it is an error to believe that the 
Roman Pontiff can and ought to reconcile himself to, and agree 
with, progress, liberalism, and contemporary civilization." He 
proclaimed Church control of education and science, the inde- 
pendence of the Church from any State interference, upheld the 
temporal power of the Papacy, and specifically condemned lay 
teaching. The Pope's ideas, whatever their merit, were impolitic. 
Napoleon III was offended, but at the moment he was equally 
annoyed at the primary patron of the anticlericals, Prince Jerome- 

Jerome had always been an embarrassment to Napoleon HI 
and was periodically in and out of favor. He had a complicated 
personality and was a bundle of contradictions. In public life, 
he had an almost infallible feeling for the inappropriate remark, 
and the wonder is that Napoleon III continually forgave him. 
He was sent to Ajaccio (Corsica) in 1864 to represent the govern- 
ment at an unveiling of a monument to Napoleon I and his four 
brothers. Among other things, he criticized the temporal power 
of the Pope and announced his support for the Poles, who were 
being crushed in an unsuccessful revolt against the Russians. 
Finally, he suggested that 

the establishment of democracy is the problem for the future. Every- 
where, the aristocracies are falling. It belongs to France, the great 
nation, to promote this necessary development, as she, through her 
genius, is always the innovating nation. 

Jerome received a public rebuke for this aggressive speech and 
resigned as Vice President of the Privy Council. 

In full knowledge that the Ministers were solidly against him, 
Duruy sent Napoleon the draft of his free and compulsory ed- 


ucation recommendation in February, 1865. Duruy was then al- 
lowed to present his report to a joint session of the Council of 
Ministers and the Privy Council, and when Rouher, the Minister 
of State, tried to sidetrack the discussion to a commercial treaty 
project, the Emperor cut him short and Duruy's report was 
accepted in an amended form. 

He was aware that some of the ministerial opposition came 
from men who were relatively indifferent to the principles in- 
volved, but who feared the expense of providing free education. 
They assumed that levying new taxes on the towns would be un- 
popular, and to defray the expenses from the government's budget 
would create an uncomfortable deficit. Duruy argued that if 
Fould, the Minister of Finance, could find money for war, he 
could find it for education, and if popularity was the measure one 
might consider that 'Trance spends twenty-five million for a Pre- 
fecture, fifty or sixty million for an Opera, and can manage only 
seven or eight million for the education of her people.'* 

Duruy asked for a budget of nineteen million as a start. Instead 
of directly taxing the towns for the increased amount, he sug- 
gested that the towns raise only six or seven million levied against 
all their taxpayers; that the departmental councils be asked to raise 
another five or six million, the tax to be prorated according to 
income; and, finally, that the government allocate eight or nine 

In accepting an amended version of Duruy's report, the Coun- 
cil actually admitted the principle of free and compulsory ed- 
ucation without providing for its universal application, and in any 
event the report was not yet a law. The towns were to be granted 
the initiative in establishing free education, and if Duruy had 
not won a complete victory he interpreted the gain as satisfactory 
in view of the opposition. Thus, he did not resign from the 
Ministry, as some of his opponents presumed he would, and con- 
tented himself with the compromise. 

It took over a year for the Council of State to transform 
Duruy's amended report into a law. It was sent to the Corps 
tegislatif for approval on June 22, 1866, where it passed unani- 
mously. The law required all communities of more than five hun- 

214 Victor Duruy 

dred inhabitants to maintain a primary school for girls, as the 
Law of 1833 had provided for boys. In communities where no 
primary school for girls existed except for a parochial school, 
the law permitted the parochial school to be regarded as semi- 
public if the community concurred. The nuns would derive the 
benefit of public support and would be subject to the inspectors 
general of the Universit6. 

The law did not, however, modify the academic requirements 
for teachers; those provisions of the Falloux Law of 1850 which 
permitted clerical teachers to be certified without having had 
courses in philosophy and rhetoric were still in effect. From 
the point of view of Duruy and the Universit6, however, the 
most important clause in the Law of 1866 was the one which gave 
communities the right to establish free education by the simple 
device of augmenting the local school appropriation by three 
centimes. This action would immediately obligate the depart- 
ment and the government to lend further aid. 

At the time of its adoption, the Law of 1866 was called both 
a defeat and a victory for Duruy, depending upon the predisposi- 
tion of the commentators. Duruy recognized the law to be a 
step in the direction he wanted to go and now felt free to devote 
more attention to other reforms. For one thing, he had been alert 
to every opportunity to replace conservative bureaucrats in the 
Ministry of Public Instruction with men more favorable to 
ky teaching. Within the Ministry there was an Imperial Council 
on Public Instruction. Five bishops customarily sat in this Coun- 
cil, and by 1866 Duruy had succeeded in obtaining five bishops 
who were regarded as liberal. In trying to infuse the Ministry 
of Public Instruction with a liberal spirit, Duruy felt obliged 
to reassure the Emperor that the Universit6 could not be criti- 
cized for any serious religious or political bias. The Catholics had 
always insinuated that a liberal teaching body would not be loyal 
to the Empire; Duruy not only disagreed but accused the Catho- 
lics of fostering Legitimist principles in parochial schools. 

It is apparent that the liberal program of lay instruction in 
the public schools was compromised by a too enthusiastic support 
from radical groups. In 1865, for instance, a number of French 


students attended an antireligion congress in Liege. Returning 
to France, they organized the International Society of Free- 
thinkers. Members took three vows: that they would not have a 
priest in attendance at a birth, a marriage, or a death. Qvil inter- 
ments were to be occasions for "lodge meetings.'* The movement 
spread, though not receiving any support from the moderate 
republican press, and provided the Catholics with an extreme 
example of secularism. 

In the following year, 1866, Jean Mace organized the Teach- 
ing League in the hope of promoting lay teaching. He quickly 
gathered more than five thousand adherents, Sainte-Beuve and 
Emile OUivier being the most prominent patrons, and only after 
some months was the League revealed to have been Masonic in 

Meanwhile, Duruy had been promoting reforms in secondary 
education. One of his earliest decrees, June 29, 1863, restored 
the teaching of philosophy in the secondary schools; philosophy 
had been generally omitted from the curriculum after 1850. A 
second decree, on September 24, 1863, ordered that recent history 
be added to the curriculum, and a week later Duruy published a 
circular urging an emphasis on modern languages. These decrees 

s: that JFrench secondary 

education Tggas^ neither adjusting to the mrceasiag-Gompkraty of 
modern life nor facing realisricalljLJJie^compromises^in curric- 
uforn which the mass education of .demacraricJife was beginning 
to require. Aside from these decrees in 1863, Duruy proposed on 
OdtoBer 2nd that the entire secondary school organization be 
studied in the hope of dividing secondary education into two 
independent programs. The memory of the farm boy in Cou- 
tances, struggling with his Greek conjugations, was still fresh in 
Duruy's inind. 

Himself a classicist, Duruy did not deprecate the value of 
the traditional classical education. The true role of the humani- 
ties, he wrote, is not to teach men to speak Greek nor to make 
chemists or historians, "but to enable students to learn to think 
and act as men." But since the graduates of secondary schools 
were likely to become the leaders in their communities, Duruy 

216 Victor Duruy 

was dismayed to see how litde they knew of modern civilization. 
In short, he insisted that the new classical secondary curriculum 
be augmented with the history of politics, economics, science, 
and the arts. Secondly, he urged die establishment of a new 
curriculum called Special Secondary Education to provide a 
more vocational type of training for students not able to bene- 
fit from the classical curriculum. 

Unlike the classical secondary curriculum, which was stand- 
ard throughout France, Duruy proposed to vary the curricula 
in the special secondary schools in order to account for regional 
agricultural and industrial requirements. He wanted to include 
courses in modern civilization and modern language "to preserve 
the literary and scientific honor of France," so that vocational 
courses really displaced only the classical studies of the tradi- 
tional curriculum. 

The opposition to the reform came from all sides, though 
the Emperor was again in Duruy's camp. Many members of the 
Universit6 were unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of any 
curriculum which dropped Latin and Greek. The Finance Min- 
ister, naturally, opposed any expansion which might unsettle 
the budget, and the Minister of Public Works objected on the 
grounds that the project was an encroachment upon his sphere, 
Duruy told Rouher that the project need not be feared as an 
innovation, since it had been considered desirable by Richelieu 
in 1625 and by Rolland in 1768. A fourth Minister revealed his 
own lack of faith in the Second Empire by saying that courses 
in modern history would be dangerous for the government, 
while a member of the parliamentary opposition said that such 
courses would simply eulogize the Empire. Duruy's answer was 
that a study of modern history was the proper antidote to fac- 
tionalism in France, "which is fanned by all parties and by anti- 
national groups like the Church." 

The battle of opinions and interests went on for nearly two 
years. Finally, on April 21, 1865, *& Corps Ugislatif voted Unan- 
imous approval nf t^f^R&cnadfuey^ f>Hnrafio^ reforms but did 

not provide one cent to inaugurate them. As in the later case 
of primary education, Duruy had to be satisfied with having 


gained a principle, which he knew would ultimately lead to ac- 
tion. To have demanded cash would have brought certain defeat 
for the principle. 

The next project was to provide teachers for the special sec- 
ondary schools. The Ecole normale superieure, founded in 1810, 
trained teachers for classical secondary education, while the 
Scales normales pri7naires y created after 1830, produced teachers 
for primary schools. On August i, 1865, Duruy proposed to 
the Emperor that the government accept an offer by the town 
of Quny to give its Benedictine abbey to the state, along with 
a subsidy of 70,000 francs, for a new Ecole normale speciale, and 
to accept an offer of 100,000 francs from the Department of 
Sa6ne-et-Loire to adapt the abbey for educational use. Secondly, 
he proposed a drastic consolidation of the eighty-four 6coles 
normales primaires in the interest of economy. The Emperor gave 
enthusiatic approval despite Rouher's objection. 

The school opened in Quny in November of 1866 and oper- 
ated without any government funds. The Ministry of Public 
Instruction provided scholarships for twenty students, and at 
Duruy's suggestion seventy departmental councils voted another 
ninety scholarships between them. Several railroad companies 
sponsored students, and gifts of money and books flowed in from 
private sources. Every official in the new school was required to 
do some teaching, including the director, Ferdinand Roux, and 
the excellent morale and enthusiasm convinced Duruy that Quny 
could become the leading school of applied science in Europe. 
In great confidence, he began the establishment of special sec- 
ondary schools, but he had not calculated the true depths of 
the academic world's hostility to the idea of vocational training. 
While the Corps 16gislatif was sufficiently impressed with Quny's 
future to vote a 200,000 franc budget in 1868, the school's days 
were numbered. With the fall of the Second Empire, Quny lost 
its autonomy and became a skeleton in the academic closet. 
After 1871 Quny suffered a slow death with teachers and stu- 
dents who had failed in classical secondary schools an academic 
Devil's Island and finally perished in 1891. 
Beginning in 1864, Duruy's budget provided 50,000 francs 

218 Victor Duray 

for adult education courses, most of which were devoted to re- 
ducing illiteracy. The Ministry of Public Instruction had no 
accurate figures on illiteracy in France and used the statistics 
provided by the Army. In 1848, for example, roughly 35 per cent 
of the recruits could not read or write; one year after the begin- 
ning of adult education courses the Army figures showed il- 
literacy reduced to 26 per cent. Enrollment increased swiftly 
in these courses from 7,500 in 1865 to 20,000 in 1866; but the 
Council of Ministers did not share the popular enthusiasm. No 
additional funds were voted, and Duruy tells us that French 
teachers simply donated their time, often paying for paper and 
books themselves to promote the adult courses. Their efforts were 
rewarded at the Exposition of 1867, when the International Jury 
awarded the teachers of France a gold medal for the adult courses. 
In consequence, Napoleon III decreed that every teacher was 
entitled to wear a small purple ribbon to signify the honor. 
This concession presumably did not upset the sacred calcula- 
tions of the Finance Minister. 

But as teachers do not live by purple ribbons alone, Duruy 
worked to improve their financial status. His decree of Septem- 
ber 4, 1863, stipulated that the Ministry of Public Instruction 
would henceforth supply furniture to teachers going to new 
posts. Accused of trying to buy teachers* votes for the govern- 
ment, Duruy explained the measure as an attempt to avoid mak- 
ing teachers contract difficult debts when first becoming estab- 
lished in a new community. It was fruitless, of course, to appeal 
to the reason of an Opposition which simultaneously urged the 
government to aid teachers and characterized every assistance 
granted as blackmail 

Pensions for teachers were hopelessly inadequate. In the i86o's, 
a minimum of one franc a day was considered essential to buy 
the necessities of life, and teachers' pensions were then averag- 
ing 100 francs a year. Thirty years of service were required 
to make one eligible for a pension, and the teacher must have 
reached sixty before payment began-an age at which it was 
difficult to find any supplementary work. In comparison, soldiers 


could retire at forty-eight, after a minimum service of twenty- 
eight years, and receive at least 365 francs a year. 

A law of 1853 had provided for a gradual increase in teachers' 
pensions until they reached the soldiers' level in 1884. But that 
was still twenty years in the future, and Duruy wanted funds 
to bridge the gap. Furthermore, he wanted a teacher to be eligible 
for a pension at fifty-five instead of sixty. As usual, the Finance 
Minister was able to demonstrate his inability to raise the required 
money, and even though Napoleon HI favored Duruy's cause 
the pensions always fell victim to more pressing needs. It is inter- 
esting, in the light of later reckoning about the defeat in 1870, 
that in 1868-1869, the Opposition favored cutting the Army 
in half to provide the credits necessary for teachers' pensions. 

Duruy, however, did not favor cutting the military establish- 
ment; he favored modernizing: it. Like Napoleon HI, Duruy be- 
lieved that the Army chiefs were too conservative in thek views, 
and he-deplored the absence of trained .reserves. Because the 
professional army system did not provide universal military 
training, Duruy proposed, in 1867, to develop a physical edu- 
cation program in the schools. The increased pressures on the 
nervous system brought by modern civilization, he argued, re- 
quire compensatory physical exercise, and the usual exercises 
could be supplemented with military-type activities: fencing with 
foil and wooden bayonets; military drill and basic infantry train- 

Duruy was no more successful in his hopes for physical edu- 
cation than he had been in his efforts for pensions. In 1865-1866, 
he had been able to get certain reforms in primary and second- 
ary education accepted in principle; the resistance to innovation 
steadily increased after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. The 
resurgence of conservatism within the Council of Ministers and 
Parliament was essentially caused by the recent setbacks France 
had suffered in her foreign policies. The Adrift towanLUberal 
Empke. to which Napoleon III was philosophically committed 
nxiTing tn..hfc interpretation of the Napoleonic Legend, was be- 
ing ^naapcoTflfced by fomga~policy failures the policies them- 

220 Victor Duruy 

selves being generally pursued in His Majesty's efforts to adhere 
to the Legend. 

In this time of troubles, Minister and Deputies barkened back 
to the victories and the prestige of the 1 850*5 and remembered 
that the Emperor had had dictatorial powers in those years. It 
was this resurgence of conservatism, and not a revival of cleri- 
calism, which increasingly hampered Duruy and which made 
Napoleon Ill's groping for Liberal Empire unpopular among 
his immediate associates. 

Despite all, Duruy began, in 1867, a program which won him 
the most violent criticism of his term in office: the expansion 
of educational facilities for girls. He hoped to implement the 
Law of 1866 by organizing 10,000 primary schools for girls; 
furthermore, he proposed secondary courses for girls both regu- 
lar and special and to permit mothers to accompany daughters 
to class as guardians of morality. Instructions to organize these 
courses were sent out to the sixteen rectors on October 30, 
1867. (For purposes of University administration, France was 
divided into sixteen districts, each headed by a rector.) 

In extending public secondary education to girls, Duruy found 
himself abandoned by even the liberal clergy, but the most vio- 
lent attacks came from Rome and from the Bishop of Orl6ans, 
Dupanloup. The latter published a brochure on November i6th 
entitled Monsieur Duruy and the Education of Girls. His thesis 
was that it was dangerous for the morality and religion of the 
young to be subjected to the influence of lay instructors. This at- 
tack came three weeks after the Battle of Mentana, where French 
troops had defended the temporal authority of the Papacy by 
defeating Garibaldi. When the official Papal journal UOsserva- 
tore 'Romano demanded Duruy's dismissal as a condition all 
Catholics should require before giving Napoleon's government 
support in the next elections, it was only too apparent that there 
was no gratitude in Rome for the protection French troops had 
been providing. The Emperor lost his temper and gave Duruy 
free reign to defend himself, while the Empress enrolled her 
two nieces in the new courses to be offered at the Sorbonne. 


Duruy took prompt action. Secondary courses were publicly 
proclaimed in Orleans, Dupanloup's diocese, on November 2ist, 
in the presence of the prefect of Loiret and under the patronage 
of the mayor. Duruy's message to the two officials was blunt: 
"The sophisms and the violence of your irascible prelate have 
not stopped you. I congratulate and thank you." The second blow 
to the Bishop was the enrollment of fifty-seven Orleans girls 
in the courses; it was the largest enrollment achieved in any 
of the provincial cities in the northern half of France. 

Dupanloup then shifted his ground somewhat, and in subse- 
quent pamphlets he stressed the rights of the Church rather than 
the issue of morality. Understanding the growing conservatism in 
the government, he tried to demonstrate that Duruy was ally of 
the Republicans and, hence, an attack upon Duruy was not an 
attack upon the Emperor or the imperial government. The argu- 
ment was not very impressive in view of the imperial couple's 
recent patronage of the new courses at the Sorbonne. 

On the other hand, there is no doubt that the Catholic out- 
burst severely limited the success of the program. Many local 
officials were reluctant to open classes which would inevitably 
produce quarrels, and in many towns it was impossible to get 
students. The Universit6, increasingly anticlerical and proud of 
Duruy's energetic leadership, was generally ready to support this 
innovation, though some teachers were torn by the necessity 
of defying their bishops. Aside from the 57 girls enrolled in 
Orleans, there were 49 at Rouen, 30 at Amiens and Valencien- 
nes, 24 at Tours, 23 at Dieppe, 15 at Saint-Quentin and Ver- 
sailles, and 9 at Beauvais. In the southern half of France, 75 girls 
enrolled at Bordeaux, 62 in Marseille, 40 at Lyons, 33 at Toulon, 
and 1 6 at Limoges. The greatest success was in Saint-Etienne, 
where an anticlerical municipal council voted funds to make 
the courses free. The enrollment was 179. It seemed that the 

bishops had prev<iilpd, hitf jp reality fjnrny had. facrwl t^<* ac _ 

principle. As Saint-Etienne showed, when 

money was supplied to back up the principle there would be 
willing students. 

222 Victor Duruy 

The stete-ol^bigher education in France-doriag. .thk period 
was incredible, and suggests once again thefailure of the French, 
iirTKe^JneteentK century, to make "a wEoIeggar^^dyistment of 
their insth^otiOTS'to meet both the competition of their neigh- 
bors and the requirements of" an industrializuig age. The uni- 
versities had practically ceased to be centers of learning and, 
with the exception of Paris, Strasbourg, and Montpellier, had been 
declining since the sixteenth century. The University of Paris 
had schools of theology, science, letters, law, medicine, and 
pharmacy, and during the Second Empire enrolled about six 
thousand students a year. 

As the universities decayed, learning was continued in the 
great monasteries and in the academies. It was useful, of course, 
to group learned men together and have them subsidized by 
Church and State, but the academies and monasteries did not 
directly train students in the traditional university fashion. Simi- 
larly, the Observatory, the College de France, and the Museum 
had faculties who did not enroll students or grant degrees. 

In 1794, during the French Revolution, the government be- 
gan to provide facilities for higher education by creating special- 
ized institutions, and this precedent was followed by subsequent 
r6gimes. Thus the Ecole polytechnique for engineering, the 
Ecole normale sup&rieure for training secondary teachers, the 
Conservatoire des arts et metiers for business, the Ecole des 
chartes for archivists, the Ecole des beaux-arts for fine arts, the 
Ecole d'architecture, and the Ecole des mines. There were others, 
too, but the total enrollment in these schools was small. In 1867, 
when the enrollment at the Military Academy of Saint-Cyr was 
301, the Ecole centrale, the industrial school, had 233 students and 
the Ecole polytechnique only 145. 

Duruy sent Charles- Adolphe Wurtg< a chemist and a member 
of the Acad6mie des sciences, to study the principal German 
universities and their scientific establishments in particular. His 
report, ultimately published in 1870, showed that learning in 
both Catholic and Protestant universities was encourged and well 
financed, and he suggested that it was high time for the French 
to spend the sums necessary to revive the universities: 


It is a problem of the first order, for the intellectual life of a na- 
tion feeds the sources of its material power, and a nation's rank de- 
pends upon the ascendancy given to the things of the mind as much 
as upon the number and valor of its defenders. 

In 1868, however, Ministers and Deputies were too concerned 
with the increasing tensions of foreign policy and the dangerous 
isolation of France to bother about academic questions. They 
did not understand what men like Wurtz knew: that handsome 
armies can become useless if a nation's leadership suffers from 
an intellectual mandarinism. Increasing military budgets and 
multiplying treaties will not in themselves guarantee the quality 
and vigor of a nation's resources. Speaking at the Ecole pratique 
de medecine in 1864, Duruy had said, "The budget must give 
way to Science and not Science to the budget," but he was shout- 
ing down a well. The sixteen provincial universities of twentieth 
century France were not formally organized until 1896. 

Meanwhile, Duruy found an inexpensive substitute, iche Ecole 
des hautes etudes, which he discussed with the Emperor and 
Hortense Cornu. Mme. Cornu had been a childhood friend of 
Napoleon and had faithfully supplied him with books during 
the years in Ham. They had shared liberal opinions, which had 
led to their estrangement after the coup (?6tat of 1851, but a 
reconciliation had taken place in March of 1862 when she be- 
came convinced that Napoleon was sincerely attempting to 
produce a liberal Empire. She became one of Duruy's staunchest 
supporters, and it is not clear whether the idea for the Ecole 
des hautes etudes was originally hers or Duruy's. 

The new school was not an institution in the usual sense, 
but a foundation financed through the Ministry of Public In- 
struction. The various state-supported schools of higher ed- 
ucation established faculty committees which corresponded with 
the Council for the Ecole des hautes 6tudes. The Council, thus 
informed of the most pressing financial needs of the various 
schools, could feed them money from the limited budget pro- 
vided by the Corps 16gislatif. Because scientific equipment and 
research laboratories had become the neglected children of 
French academic life, Duruy stressed the need to give them 

224 Victor Duruy 

priority in the allocation of funds. The Council was free to sub- 
sidize worthwhile individual projects and to pay for publica- 
tions; and individuals and institutions receiving money were 
expected to promote the spirit of learning by increasing the 
number of lectures open to the general public. 

The Ecole des hautes 6tudes was created by Duruy's decree of 
July 31, 1868. Earlier in the month, the Corps 16gislatif had pro- 
vided 50,000 francs for research facilities, and Duruy was prom- 
ised that the government would attempt to double the amount 
in 1869, as well as find 80,000 francs for instructional laboratories 
in the public schools. He also wanted to create a meteorological 
observatory on the Plateau of Montsouris (where Baron Hauss- 
mann was developing a park) in the hope of making meteorology 
into a science useful to the Navy and to agriculture. Haussmann 
agreed to cooperate. The City of Paris bought a house on the 
Plateau belonging to the Bey of Tunis for 120,000 francs and 
rented it to the Ministry of Public Instruction for one franc a 

Duruy made his last appearance at the Council of Ministers 
on July 12, 1869. The government was to be reconstituted (see 
the chapter on Emile Ollivier), and Napoleon asked for the 
immediate resignation of three Ministers: Rouher, Minister of 
State; Baroche, Minister of Justice; and Vuitry, President of the 
Council of State. The remaining Ministers were asked to stay 
in office until their successors were able to assume their duties. 
Five days later, Duruy received the following note from His 


I am obliged by the present situation to remove a minister who has 
my confidence and who rendered great service to public education. 

If politics has no feelings, the sovereign has, and he is anxious to ex- 
press his regrets to you. I have asked M. Bourbeau, a Deputy, to re- 
place you. I hope to see you one of these days so that you can tell me 
what I can do to demonstrate my sincere friendship. 


In consequence, Duruy gave his prepared speech of farewell 
to his associates in the Ministry of Public Instruction and began 


to pack his bags for an extensive trip. His vacation took him to 
Egypt, Constantinople, Greece, and Italy, and everywhere he 
signed the registers as Senator Duruy, the new office conferred 
upon him by Napoleon III as a reward for services to France. 

As the Senate was not truly a legislative body but served as 
a check upon the constitutionality of legislation, the work of 
Senators was not arduous. It was a convenience for the govern- 
ment to have an exclusive club to which it might retire notable 
public figures, providing them with a handsome pension for 
life. And to this small gerontocracy, one must add the French 
marshals and cardinals who were automatically members of the 
Senate by right of rank. In short, the Senate was not simmering 
with liberalism, and Duruy found himself surrounded by hostility. 
A lesser man would have surrendered at this point and slunk 
into the depths of his senatorial chair, but Duruy had one more 
battle to fight. 

The Falloux Law of 1850 provided for academic freedom in 
the primary and secondary schools but not in higher education. 
On the surface a liberal measure, this academic freedom had 
been inserted by Falloux and Montalembert to protect the clergy- 
men whom the law permitted to teach in public primary schools. 
In 1863 Duruy had proposed to extend this liberty to higher edu- 
cation and had been solidly opposed by those who had cham- 
pioned the principle in 1850. They argued that professors in 
higher education were inclined to teach revolutionary and ma- 
terialistic doctrines. 

In the spring of 1868, a journalist named Girault petitioned 
the Senate to recommend the principle of academic freedom on 
the university level. He wanted in particular to guarantee some 
medical professors the right to debate the merits of materialism. 
A sick Sainte-Beuve rose in defense of the petition, and in the 
certainty that it would fail he denounced the hypocrisy of upper 
French society for being clerical but unchristian. As foreseen, the 
petition was beaten eighty to forty-three. 

Duruy reopened the question on June 28, 1870, this time as a 
Senator. He began by revealing how little the state actually in- 
vested in its professors of higher education; six hundred men, 
who maintained the literary and scientific honor of France, cost 

226 Victor Duruy 

the state between 50,000 and 60,000 francs in 1869. The remainder 
of their salaries came from students' tuition. It was time, he sug- 
gested, for the government to consider its responsibilities to these 
learned men and stop trying to subject scholarly institutions and 
ideas to parliamentary supervision. He told the Senators what his 
own professional experience had taught him: that the real check 
belongs within the profession itself, and that the standards of a 
profession are more rigid than any law. But this time his effort 
was too late; in six weeks the Empire was gone. 

Duruy now had the leisure to prepare his final two volumes of 
the Roman History for the publisher. They appeared in 1872. He 
began to assemble notes for his M&moires and to reconsider the 
Emperor under whom he had served for six years. His Majesty 
was certainly guilty of mistakes: the coup (fStat of 1851 w^ "vm- 
nesessac^and led to absolute power, an q^^r^gm in rhf ninr 
teenth century, and he believed that the lavish court belonged to 
another era. But even a complete list of mistakes, Duruy wrote, 
"will not permit posterity to be as unjust to Napoleon III as his 
immediate successors have been." 

He recalled Napoleon's speech of November 5, 1863, opening 
the new Parliament, in which he proposed an international con- 
gress to arbitrate the differences between nations. It was the old 
project of Henri IV and not a fantastic vision of a hallucinated 
dreamer. Duruy recognized that Napoleon III did dream, but he 
claimed that dreaming was often the "necessary condition to ar- 
rive at an ideal." He believed the Emperor's well known gener- 
osity and kindness to be genuine and not a matter of political 
expediency. Indeed, as both Duruy and Dr. Barthez, the Prince 
Imperial's physician, have testified, the Emperor was kind to a 
point of weakness. He detested the shrewd dealing at the market 
place so characteristic of his r6gime but feigned to ignore it 
to repay those who had helped him. He was forever needing ad- 
vances on his civil list, because he gave money away too gener- 
ously, and if he provided well for Eug6nie's future, he himself 
could only pay half the usual rent at Chisdehurst when in exile. 
"How often I saw him arrive at the Council of Ministers with 
projects for assistance to the weak and needy!" And if only the 


Army had paid more attention to the Emperor's military ideas 
in the i86o's, Duruy thought, the complexion of the war could 
have been considerably changed. 

Meanwhile, Duruy began to reap the honors which his labors 
as historian and Minister so richly deserved. In 1873 he was elected 
to the Academic des inscriptions et belles-lettres; in 1879 to the 
Academic des sciences morales et politiques; and finally to the 
Acad6mie francaise in 1884. His long retirement, for he did not 
die until 1894, gave him the pleasure of seeing his educational 
innovations develop into generally accepted practices, and one 
can envision his smile in 1880 when France opened her first regular 
lycSe for girls. Speaking at a dinner in his honor four years later, 
Duruy remarked that "the good one has done is the best baggage 
one takes in leaving life." By this reckoning, Victor Duruy de- 
parted heavily laden. 


Gustave Courbet 


One of the happiest facets of the creative life is that 
we are remembered for our 'works and not for ourselves. 


230 Gustave Courbet 

V^iourbet was born on June 10, 1819, at Ornans in the Depart- 
ment of the Doubs. The family had ancient roots in the Franche- 
Comt6 and were landed and well-to-do. Through his mother's 
line, the radical and anticlerical Oudots, Gustave may have ac- 
quired his sympathy for the Revolution, but his father, R6gis 
Courbet, dabbled at inventions rather than politics. During his 
long life, R6gis produced an impressive number of unusable farm 
implements, but his good humor allowed him to survive his 
neighbors' jibes as well as to bear the vanity of his eldest son. 

Gustave's chief pastime as a child was the composition of songs 
with which he regaled all without discrimination. In fact, this 
youthful talent could not be avoided, as he bellowed his songs 
through doors and walls, shattering sanctuaries and disturbing the 
peace. At the age of twelve Gustave was enrolled at the local 
seminary, which accepted both lay and clerical pupils. Despite a 
wretched record during his six years at the school, his conceit 
remained undiminished. A wild, noisy, gauche young man, he 
much preferred the countryside to the classroom. If his academic 
record was poor, his religious record was worse. This rebellious 
boy confessed extraordinary sins, and the priests refused him 
absolution. Finally Cardinal de Rohan of Besangon solved the 
problem by discovering Gustave reading from a list of sins at 
confession. Thus, this child who would remain unchanged in 
his attitude toward religion made his first communion, which 
was administered by a Prince of the Church. 

The only part of the curriculum at Ornans which had inter- 
ested Gustave was the study of art, but when it came time to 
leave the seminary in his eighteenth year the boy was informed 
by his sensible and practical parent that he was to take prelaw 
training at the Colllge royal in Besangon. He was completely 


miserable in Besangon until, as a compassionate concession, his 
father allowed him to be a day student. This made it possible for 
him to live away from school, and he utilized his new freedom 
by seeking the company of painters. 

Courbet was particularly attracted to two brothers, Arthaud 
and Edouard Bailie, and they began taking him to the Besangon 
Ecole des beaux-arts. The teacher was Charles Flajoulot, a dis- 
ciple of Louis David, and Courbet was taught to draw from life. 
In the second year at Besangon, Courbet was joined by Maxi- 
milian Buchon, an old friend from seminary days. Buchon fancied 
himself a poet and claimed to be a Realist. In the meantime the 
Courbet family was beginning to realize the futility of the law 
course, and after Gustave had spent three years in Besangon they 
allowed him to move to Paris. It was 1 840, and he was twenty- 

His first Parisian school was directed by a Baron von Steuben, 
a remarkable choice because Courbet hated supervision and dis- 
cipline above alL He quickly changed to the Atelier suisse on the 
He de la Cite, where models were supplied, but nothing more. The 
absence of instruction suited Courbet, but his family was suspi- 
cious of his failure to enroll in a recognized academy. There were 
frequent letters from Ornans to Paris, mostly to berate the errant 
son for his supposed dissolute life in the wicked city. The family 
was unconvinced of the fact that Gustave was spending con- 
siderable time at the Louvre studying the old masters. 

His first five years in Paris, 1840-1845, were a period of tran- 
sition in Courbet's painting. Conforming to the ideals of his day, 
he usually chose literary or romantic subjects for his canvases. 
For instance, the erotic Lot and His Daughters dates from this 
period. But as Courbet was no intellectual, literary and romantic 
subjects meant little to him, and he was increasingly drawn to 
landscapes and portraits. On a visit home in 1842, he did a por- 
trait of his father, actually a favor because he preferred to paint 
the face he saw in the mirror. In fact, his first success was "Self- 
Portrait with the Black Dog" (1842), which won him admission 
to the government's Salon of 1844. The following year, the Salon 
accepted four of the five canvases he submitted, and he made his 

232 Gustave Courbet 

first sale. A Dutch dealer gave him 420 francs for two pictures 
and commissioned a portrait. 

The Salon of 1847 rejected all of Courbet's entries, and he ac- 
cused the jury of excessive conservatism and conventionality. 
Perhaps he was right, for in that year many prominent artists 
were rejected Delacroix, Daumier, and Thlodore Rousseau 
among them so that one could almost congratulate oneself on 
being excluded. A number of these men discussed establishing an 
independent annual exhibition, but the project was rendered un- 
necessary by the Revolution of 1848. 

Government and art are a risky compound, and the mixture 
can be safely achieved only with the most enlightened direction. 
Otherwise, the amalgam tends to make common that which is 
least common in essence. Artists rarely know much of politics, 
and politicians can be counted on to know nothing of art. The 
artists and politicians of 1848 engaged in an affair which was more 
than a manage de convenance; it got intensely emotional. That 
was the year to lay down the hoe and take up the paintbrush. 
The Salon jury, in a mood which conservatively might be kbeled 
liberal, gave the nod to quantity by accepting 5,500 pictures, 
seven of which were by Courbet. The lesson was not lost on a 
good many of the artists. It was obvious that the democratic 
Republic loved art with a passion, and the artists forgot what 
they, more than other men, ought to know: that art has nothing 
to do with forms of government, because it transcends politics. 

Courbet had been indifferent to the February revolt, which 
brought down the July Monarchy, but the bloody June Days, 
when Republicans engaged in mutual slaughter, horrified him. 
His sympathies were with the mob, that is, the more radical or 
socialistic faction, though he refused as a matter of principle to 
bear arms for his principles. Hoping to give the enemy a fatal 
blow with his paintbrush, he drew up a vignette for the paper 
Salut fublic which was edited by a triumvirate: Baudelaire, 
Champfleury, and Toubin. If the point needed to be made, Cour- 
bet demonstrated that the paintbrush is less deadly than the sword. 

Courbet had known Baudelaire only a short time and was un- 


interested in his poetry, in fact in all poetry. Baudelaire, who 
often slept at Courbet's, usually in a drunken or drugged state, 
reflected in his living and in his poetry the spiritual frustration of 
his time. Courbet did a portrait of the poet (1848), but the sub- 
ject did not appreciate die canvas. This friendship did not com- 
promise Courbet politically as much as did his continued friend- 
ship with Maximilian Buchon, the Realist from Ornans. Through 
him, Courbet was recognized to be a democrat and a republican, 
though for the moment such a designation was politically safe. 

One of the reforms justified the support which many artists 
had given the Second Republic. The jury for the Salon of 1849 
was selected by the exhibiting artists rather than by the Academic 
des beaux-arts. Seven of Courbet's pictures were accepted, and 
his "After Dinner at Ornans" won a second-prize gold medal 
The director of Beaux-Arts bought this painting for the govern- 
ment, and it was then presented to the Lille Museum. This was 
the beginning of fame and financial success. 

In 1850 Courbet painted the "Stone Breakers." He had seen 
these men and believed them the personification of poverty. 
Somewhat later, Proudhon called this large canvas (it was seven 
feet by ten) the first socialist picture and Courbet the first social- 
ist painter: 

The Stone Breakers is a satire on our industrial civilization, which con- 
stantly invents wonderful machines to ... perform ... all kinds of 
labor . . . and yet is unable to liberate man from the most backbreak- 

Certainly Courbet saw the social significance of his work after it 
had been pointed out to him by Proudhon, an example of how 
much the viewer brings to a work of art. 

Courbet painted several eminent musicians in this era. Chopin's 
portrait was done in 1848, only a short time before the pianist's 
death, and Berlioz was persuaded by a friend to sit for his por- 
trait in 1850. He did so grudgingly and had his sentiments veri- 
fied when Courbet loudly sang during his sittings. His musical 
genius was so unmistakably absent that Berlioz could only suppose 

234 Gustave Courbet 

he was being purposely insulted. Naturally he found the portrait 
bad and even refused it as a gift. It is now regarded as one of 
Courbet's best. 

During the winter of 1849-1850, Courbet was at work on a 
gigantic canvas, eleven feet by twenty-three. The death of his 
maternal grandfather in the previous year probably gave him 
the idea for the picture, which was called "Burial at Ornans." It 
was accepted for the Salon of 1850-1851, along with eight other 
canvases. The picture contained forty life-sized figures, all of 
them inhabitants of Courbet's home town. He sought out the 
models one at a time and soon discovered that his problem was 
not whom to include but whom to leave out. The citizenry re- 
garded a pkce on Courbet's canvas as a civic right, and the clamor 
to be among the favored forty was intense and disagreeable. The 
social triumph of these forty immortals was temporary. Parisian 
art critics advised Courbet that his subjects were too mean and 
ugly to be worthy of art, and the "Burial" attracted more hostil- 
ity than his other canvases in the Salon. The townspeople of 
Ornans then attacked Courbet for making them appear grotesque, 
but, as a Realist, Courbet had no mollifying answer. 


The Realists were a later nineteenth century group in revolt 
against Classicism and Romanticism. Both of the latter schools 
often took subjects far removed from contemporary life, but the 
Realists commanded that the everyday, theL^pparenjtvthe material 
gnhjgn- f^ thf^arrist's concern? ibey-wetr pamaahrty opposed 
to^elegance and sentimentality, often preferring commonplace and 
^seamy themes: 

It has been suggested that certain aspects of the nineteenth 
century promoted the development of the Realist school both in 
painting and in literature. Following the French and Industrial 
revolutions, political and economic power shifted to those whose 
creed was practicality, and who, out of self-interest, championed 
a more liberal climate. This faith in the practical and existential 


involved a loss of faith in the immaterial, in idealism, in imagina- 
tion, and in the metaphysical. Naturally, some painters and 
writers reflected this Zeitgeist, though it did not necessarily 
follow that their works won immediate popularity by conform- 
ing to the spirit of the time: a group new to social and political 
leadership is likely to adopt the artistic standards of its prede- 
cessor. Here we have Courbet himself, writing, no doubt, with 
the aid of literary friends: 

The basis of realism is negation of the ideal, a negation towards which 
my studies have led me for fifteen years and which no artist has dared 
to affirm categorically until now. . . . Romantic art, like that of the 
classical school, was art for art's sake. Today, in accordance with the 
most recent developments in philosophy, one is obliged to reason 
even in art, and never to permit sentiment to overthrow logic. Rea- 
son should be man's ruling principle in everything. My form of art is 
the final one because it is the only one which, so far, has combined all 
of these elements. Through my affirmation of the negation of the ideal 
and all that springs from the ideal I have arrived at the emancipation 
of the individual and finally at democracy. Realism is essentially the 
democratic art. 

And here is a passage which Courbet wrote in 1861 for the bene- 
fit of a group of art students: 

I hold also that painting is an essentially concrete art, and can con- 
sist only of the representation of things both real and existing. It is an 
altogether physical language, which, for its words, makes use of all 
visible objects. An abstract object, invisible or nonexistent, does not 
belong to the domain of painting. . . . Beauty as given by nature is 
superior to all the conventions of the artist. Beauty, like truth, is rela- 
tive to the time when one lives and to the individual who can grasp it. 

The Realists were generally captivated by the promises of 
nineteenth century science. By 1850 the marriage of science and 
technology had begun to transform science from philosophy to 
utility, and as science began to wade in the pond of practicality 
its advantages were more clearly perceived by the public. Visitors 
at the Exposition univcrselle of 1855, while interested in new 

236 Gustave Conrbet 

building construction materials and in farm machinery, were 
particularly attracted to a section called Home Economy. Here 
they saw a collection of inexpensive household items designed to 
raise the living standard of the poor. Science, of course, did not 
divorce itself from speculation, but, in entering this bigamic 
state, scored a triumph over pure philosophy and theology, neither 
of which could produce plows or domestic comforts. The Real- 
ists* belief that die cure for the evident evils in the world lay in 
science is well put by Gustave Flaubert in these words written 
in 1869 to George Sand: 

Experience shows (it seems to me) that no form is intrinsically good; 
Orleanism, republic, empire, no longer mean anything, since the most 
contradictory ideas can be filed in each of those pigeon-holes. All the 
flags have been so defiled with blood and shit that it is time we had 
none at all. Down with words! No more symbols! No more fetishes! 
The great moral of the present regime will be to prove that universal 
suffrage is as stupid as divine right, though a little less odious. 

The problem shifts, therefore. It is no longer a question of striving 
for the best form of government, since one form is as good as another, 
but of making Science prevail. That is the most urgent. The rest will 
follow inevitably. Pure intellectuals have been of greater use to the 
human race than all the Saint Vincent de Pauls in the world! And 
politics will continue to be absurd until it becomes a province of Sci- 
ence. A country's government ought to be merely a section of the 
Institute and the least important one of all. 

The division of cultural history into periods or art schools may 
be convenient for historians, but the results can be misleading. 
Elements of all philosophical and artistic schools and truths co- 
exist. A momentary vogue will emphasize a particular verity, but 
the pendulum of popularity will inevitably shift, and yesterday's 
truth will seem tomorrow's blindness. Rival creeds, if tempo- 
rarily eclipsed, are not obliterated for the reason that human 
nature is relatively constant. A movement like Realism was not 
first conceived in the nineteenth century (if one remembers that 
matter as opposed to spirit has always been an issue), but was 
merely a recent manifestation of an ancient facet of our civiliza- 


tion. We have already noted the apparent triumph of the secular, 
the practical, and the utilitarian by 1850, but it would be childish 
to regard such a victory as anything more than transitory. Yet, vrt 
find Courbet confident in the finality of his art form. v 

If man's qualities and sensibilities do not appreciably change 
in a given era, we may conclude, then, that apparent changes are 
owing to changing ideals. T tLCfW rK * 1 '' c P*"K"\ the absence of an 
ideal is elementary to the system, though it can be argued that 
other Realists idealized applied science as the panacea for human- 
ity. In any case, all Realists were contemptuous of metaphysical 
ideals. Classicism and Romanticism are by no means synonymous, 
but each possesses an ideal which lies beyond the realm of the 
material. The two schools are generally regarded as antithetical; 
another view is that they are really complementary. Classicism 
satisfies us with a glimpse of perfection, while Romanticism warms 
us with its personal touch with humanity. Man, who is neither 
exclusively bestial nor exclusively divine, requires both ideals 
for a balanced view. 

The greatness of art depends upon the artist's depth and not 
upon extreme specialization. Courbet, in his own definition of art, 
recognized only one aspect of life, die mundane. The most seri- 
ous charge to be brought against Courbet and Realism is mate- 
rialism, and the usual argument over Realism, which worries the 
question of whether the common is beautiful, should be a second- 
ary consideration. In its disdain for the immaterial ideal, Realism 
is vulnerable to the charge of being amoral and, in this way, is 
antisocial and the sign of a decadent society. Realism is not 
merely attendant upon a utilitarian age; it is a sign that the super- 
ficial and the obvious give satisfaction. Whatever is photographic 
does not omit details for the mind to fill in. "The truth yes,'* 
said Maupassant; "the whole truth no." 

In a less philosophical vein, Realism was attacked by Ingres, a 
grandfather in art by the time of the Second Empire. He thought 
that any anticlassic art was merely the art of the lazy. "It is the 
doctrine of those who want to produce without having worked, 
who want to know without having learned." Ingres had been 

238 Gustave Courbet 

director of the French Academy in Rome, 1834-1841, and his 
words were heavy with prestige. Certainly his influence was a 
factor in restraining French artists from following Courbet. 


We pick up Courbet's story in 1853, the year he presented his 
"Wrestlers," the "Sleeping Spinner," and the "Bathers" at the 
Salon. The critics were again harsh. One suggested that the 
"Spinner" needed a bath. As for the "Wrestlers," the Journal pour 
rire remarked: 

These two men are fighting to see which is the dirtiest. The victor 
will receive a four-cent bath ticket. None of the muscles of these 
wrestlers will be found in its usual place. The disorder is easily ex- 
plained by the strain of the struggle. Often a beautiful disorder gives 
an artistic effect. 

The central figure in the "Bathers" was a solid nude, modeled 
by Courbet's mistress of the moment, and the critics found her 
disgustingly fat. At a private showing of the Salon for the im- 
perial family, Napoleon III, who had better taste in women than 
Courbet, struck the picture with his riding crop. This attracted 
the Empress's attention and, having just seen Rosa Bonheur's 
"Horse Fair," she inquired, "Is she a Percheron too?" 

The "Bathers" was purchased by Alfred Bruyas, whom Courbet 
met in 1853. Bruyas was a wealthy patron, who became Courbet's 
best friend and bought a number of his canvases, including the 
"Sleeping Spinner" and "Man with the Pipe." The chief delight 
in this art lover's life was to collect portraits of himself, of which 
he commissioned a total of sixteen. 

Also in 1853, Courbet met Count Nieuwerkerke, the Director 
of Museums. Nieuwerkerke invited the artist to lunch, as he put 
it, on behalf of the government. It was a friendly gesture, and 
Nieuwerkerke explained that the government would be pleased 
to have him paint a picture for the Exposition of 1855. The terms: 
that he submit a sketch in advance, and that the finished picture 
be passed by a group of artists selected by Courbet and by a 


committee chosen by Nieuwerkerke. If the Director sought to 
placate Courbet, he used the wrong approach, as Courbet did not 
admit the competence of anyone, beside himself, to judge his art. 
Nieuwerkerke, who was a traditionalist, could not agree. Courbet 
then announced that he planned an exhibition of his own to rival 
the government's, and the interview ended in bitterness. 

In the meantime Courbet had a small show in Frankfurt, which 
was notably more successful than his previous shows in Paris. 
Prince Gorchakov offered to buy "Man with the Pipe," but Cour- 
bet had already promised it to Bruyas. Refusing the flattering 
offer from the great aristocrat gave Courbet the opportunity to 
suggest his own selflessness, though the truth was that he had a 
great financial stake in Bruyas, whom he hoped to develop into 
what we today call an angel. Courbet told Gorchakov that the 
same commitment had prevented his selling the picture to Louis- 
Napoleon in 1850. This was a double falsehood; Courbet did not 
know Bruyas in 1 850, and Napoleon had had to withdraw an offer 
of two thousand francs for die picture owing to a reduction in 
his income. The artist had been only too willing to sell to a Bona- 
parte despite many statements he made to the contrary. 

Courbet spent four months of 1854 living sumptuously at 
Bruyas's in Montpellier. He did two portraits of his host, one of 
himself, and a large canvas called "The Meeting," which depicted 
his arrival and reception by Bruyas. The picture is ample evidence 
of Courbet's egotism. Bruyas and his attendant are shown in ob- 
sequious attitudes, and even their dog stands in awe-stricken quiet 
at the approach of the great master. Of all the figures, Courbet 
alone casts a shadow. When "The Meeting" was exhibited in 
1855, the critics referred to it by one of two titles: "Bonjour, M. 
Courbet!" and 'Tortune Bowing Before Genius." 

In the midst of luxury at die Bruyas's, Courbet had a few 
troubles. He survived an attack of cholera, the same plague which 
the French troops were at that moment transporting to the war 
zone on the Black Sea. He attributed his recovery to a medication 
of his own invention: twelve drops of laudanum in a linseed en- 
ema. (Any reader attracted by this home remedy ought to be ad- 
vised that Courbet suffered from hemorrhoids for the following 

240 Gustave Courbet 

twenty years.) His illness was capped with some inconvenience 
in love: 

My love affairs here have grown complicated. Jealousy on the part of 
Camelia, a young girl from Nancy; disclosure of our relations, Rose 
in prison. Blanche succeeds her. The commissioner annoyed by 
Blanche, Blanche exiled to Cette. Tears, visit to the prison, vows of 
love, I go to Cette. Camelia in prison; m$re Cadet in a frenzy. Mere 
Cadet and I make love. Mina, in anguish, takes a new lover. 

His affairs were physical, his mistresses were often his models, 
and he never married: 

I still have Rose. Rose wants to go to Switzerland with me, saying that 
I may abandon her wherever I please. My love will not stretch far 
enough to include a journey with a woman. Knowing there are 
women all over the world, I see no reason to carry one with me. 

Courbet contemplated having a private showing in 1855, which 
would dim into insignificance the Exposition universelle. Bruyas 
p&re, however, did not relish the idea of a competition with the 
government and refused the 40,000 francs deemed necessary by 
his son and Courbet. The artist then swallowed his pride and pre- 
pared to submit fourteen canvases to the jury. In particular, he 
worked on a new gigantic picture, the "Atelier," which would 
contain thirty figures: 

The scene is laid in my studio in Paris. The picture is divided into 
two parts. I am in the center, painting; on the right all the active 
participants, that is my friends, the workers, the art collectors. On the 
left the others, those whose lives are without significance: the com- 
mon people, the destitute, the poor, the wealthy, the exploited, the 
exploiters, those who thrive on death. 

A jury of thirty examined the more than seven thousand works 
submitted for the Exposition universelle and ultimately chose 
over eighteen hundred of them. They accepted eleven of 
Courbet's fourteen, which would have been a triumph for any- 
one less self-assured. The "Burial at Ornans" and the "Atelier" 
were, in all probability, rejected because of their enormous size. 


Count Nieuwerkerke was not responsible for their omission, be- 
cause, though he presided over the jury, he cast no vote. 

Courbet was now determined to proceed with his original plan, 
and, for a six-month period, rented a small area on the Exposition 
site. His second move was a frantic plea for financial support, 
written to Alfred Bruyas, so that he might build a gallery. The 
message to Bruyas: "Paris is furious at my rejection," plus a 
modest estimate that his show would make 100,000 francs. Every- 
one cooperated with Courbet, including the government he hated 
as despotic. The Minister of Beaux-Arts, Achille Fould, gave 
Courbet permission to charge an entrance fee, and most private 
collectors lent him whatever he requested. The Lille Museum 
was an exception, finding itself unable to part with "After Dinner 
at Ornans" for even a moment. 

The show opened on June 28, 1855, with forty paintings, and 
Theophile Gautier, who was hostile to Courbet, was the first to 
enter. It was a bad omen. Proudhon gave what encouragement 
he could, but the critics generally felt Courbet's performance to 
be in bad taste. The public showed little interest, even after Cour- 
bet cut the entrance fee, and a financial failure was only too ap- 
parent. Even the Realist Champfleury, who had prepared the 
catalogue for the show, became convinced that Courbet was in- 
sincere and only bent on causing a sensation. Here is the gist of 
Courbet's catalogue, presumably his own ideas but written by 

The appellation of realist has been imposed upon me just as the ap- 
pellation of romanticists was imposed upon the men of 1830. At no 
time have labels given a correct idea of things; if they did so, die 
works would be superfluous. 

Without discussing the applicability, more or less justified, of a 
designation which nobody, it is to be hoped, is required to understand 
very well, I shall confine myself to a few words of explanation to 
dispel misunderstandings. 

Unhampered by any systematized approach or preconception, I 
have studied the art of the ancients and die art of the moderns. I had 
no more desire to imitate die one than to copy die other; nor was I 
any more anxious to attain the empty objective of art for art's sake. 

242 Gustave Courbet 

No! I simply wanted to extract from the entire body of tradition the 
rational and independent concepts appropriate to my own person- 

To know in order to create, that was my idea. To be able to repre- 
sent the customs, the ideas, the appearance of my own era according 
to my own valuation; to be not only a painter but a man as well; in 
short to create a living art; that is my aim. 

One can only applaud Courbet for wishing to create, for it is 
the highest function of man. Moreover, the creative life is the 
happy life, because creation involves the individual in the stream 
of universality or truth. It is our touch with perfection. One 
might define creation two ways, though avowedly they are clearly 
related: the discovery of unity out of the chaos of natural phe- 
nomena; the discovery of the perfect analogy which achieves uni- 
versal response. Is it not true, by this reckoning, that the creation 
of art becomes considerably more difficult if the artist rejects 
tradition and ideals and insists upon "my own personality" and 
"my own valuation"? No one insists upon a rigid adherence to a 
standardized form, which can become as sterile as extreme in- 
dividualism; but, in order to partake of concepts and passions, men 
must stand together on the same plane. 

If this seems a narrow definition of creative art, it is well to note 
that our language may be at fault. The failure to distinguish 
clearly between art and skill, owing to the meaning of the word 
artisan, has left us semantically obliged to call every man who 
draws pleasantly an artist. The world contains many talented 
craftsmen, or artisans if you will, whose products are skillfully 
made and delightful to behold. Artists, however, are not merely 
skillful, nor can they always tell you what they are about, for the 
true artist has entered the metaphysical realm. Accordingly, 
Courbet's philosophical views might well be contrasted with some 
of his canvases. His principles are disavowed by his best paint- 
ings, which clearly transcend the narrow confines of Realism. 
(Like all great artists, Courbet was moved by an inner vision which 
|he neither understood nor needed to understand in order to 
create, and his principles might well be ignored were they not the 


icooperative effort of his critic-friends and in harmony with an 
jartistic current of the time. 

Courbet seemed to change his subjects in 1856, a year in which 
he submitted nothing to the Salon. His attention veered to land- 
scapes and hunting scenes, hunting being the only exercise he 
enjoyed. In 1857 Courbet sent six canvases to the Salon, the most 
notable being "The Quarry," "Doe Lying Exhausted in the 
Snow," and "Young Women on the Banks of the Seine." Except 
for the latter, which featured prostitutes, the work was better 
received than Courbet had previously experienced, and he won a 
medal as in 1849. A new critic, Jules-Antoine Castagnary, began 
taking an interest in Courbet. They had as a basis for their friend- 
ship anticlericalism and republicanism, but Castagnary was 
cautious at first: 

His brush is vigorous, his color is solid, his depth often surprising. 
He grasps the external appearance of things. . . . But he does not see 
beyond that because he does not believe in painting. 

Meanwhile, Courbet had begun to travel extensively: Mont- 
pellier, Bordeaux, Dijon, Le Havre, Besanjon, Brussels, and 
Frankfurt. Abroad, he made it clear how much he enjoyed the 
freedom from "that government" in Paris. Courbet could sense 
great liberty in those areas where his pictures sold well, and by 
this criterion the peoples of the German states were the freest in 
Europe. Frankfurt was the center of Courbefs popularity, and 
there he sold his "Doe Lying Exhausted in the Snow" in 1858. 

We do find Courbet in Paris the following year, however, 
giving a party in his studio. Whatever he may have otherwise 
written about his displeasure over the Realist classification, he 
called his party a f Ste du rfdisme. Only artists and writers were 
invited. A number of realistic entertainments were arranged by 
the host, including a cancan by Titine, a rejected play by Fernand 
Desnoyers, and a Haydn symphony played by Champfleury on 
the double bass. 

It was clear that Courbet had considerable prestige by 1861. 
The government, of course, and the official art world still re- 
garded him as a pest, but he won his third second-class medal 

244 Gustave Courbet 

that year in the Salon. He had submitted five canvases, the most 
notable being "Oraguay Rock" and "Fighting Stags." Of greater 
significance was a request he received from a group of students 
who were discontented at the Ecole des beaux-arts. They wanted 
him to open a school, and the great rebel agreed to do so. 

The school opened at 83 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, and the 
enrollment, thirty-one at first, quickly increased to forty-two. 
The students' tuition went for rent and equipment, not to Cour- 
bet. At first the students were presented with a letter, probably 
written by the critic Castagnary, and dated December 25, 1861; 
the students were told that they were not students and that the 
school was not a school: 

There can be no schools; there are only painters. Schools are useful 
only for the study of the analytical processes of art. No school can 
lead by itself to synthesis. 

Courbet was willing to demonstrate his methods, and he did pro- 
vide models. A stuffed buck was not too unorthodox a model, but 
when Courbet introduced and housed a live horse and ox in the 
studio the landlord was furious. Unhappily for him, Courbet had 
a four-month lease, which ran its course. The school then closed, 
foundering on a philosophical point. After all, the refusal to 
nousebreak the animals was an act of faith in Realism. 

Shortly afterward Courbet became the guest of a wealthy 
dilettante, Etienne Baudry, who lived at Rochemont in the Sain- 
tonge. Courbet stayed ten months, joining a group of artists and 
writers. He produced more than sixty canvases during this period 
and began work on a large picture which he called "subversive." 
The painting, which he named "Return from the Conference," 
was eleven by seven feet, eight inches. Not wishing to embarrass 
Baudry by doing an anticlerical canvas at his home, Courbet made 
arrangements to work at a nearby imperial stud farm. Here he 
fashioned the likenesses of seven drunken priests returning home 
from a religious conclave. To make the staggering procession 
completely absurd, the fattest of the seven rode a struggling 

The secret of the painting was not long kept, and the outraged 


local citizenry forced the director of the stud farm to oust Cour- 
bet. He then got the unfinished canvas into the home of a ferry- 
man by the name of Faure, who was somewhat reluctant to 
receive the donkey. Finally finished, Courbet submitted the paint- 
ing, with three others, to the Salon of 1863. It was rejected by the 
jury and not even allowed in the Salon des refuses, which was 
inaugurated that year by Napoleon III. The work caused a scandal 
and was regarded as downright bad painting, aside from its 
atrocious taste. An ardent Catholic ultimately bought it in order 
to destroy it, but a photograph and a preliminary sketch remain. 
Strangely enough, Courbet withheld his best works from this 
Salon; he had reached the egotistical point where he ascribed all 
adverse criticism to people having "sold out to the government." 


The year 1863 saw several crises in French art, which weakened 
the position of Courbet's enemies, the academicians. The first 
concerned the reform of the "art machine," that is, the govern- 
mental apparatus, which dominated French painting. The old 
academies had been revived by the Constitution of the Year III 
(1795) under the tide Institut de France. Actually, the Institut 
was composed of five academies. The Acad6mie des beaux-arts, 
which concerns us, had a membership of forty "immortals": 
fourteen painters, eight sculptors, eight architects, six composers, 
and four engravers. Royal patronage of the arts had been a feature 
of European society since the days when national governments 
took precedence over ecclesiastical authority. The tradition of 
government assistance for art was thus so strong that even the 
overthrow of legitimate monarchy did not long disturb it. The 
forty immortals of the Acad&nie des beaux-arts controlled the 
Ecole des beaux-arts, the French Academy in Rome, the official 
Salons, and the Hotel Drouot the center for sales. The whole 
apparatus was financed by the state. 

The decision to reform this system does not appear to have been 
initiated by the Emperor or any of his ministers, but by Count 
Nieuwerkerke and die architect Viollet-le-Duc. The former, of 

246 Gustave Courbet 

Dutch origin, was a sculptor who had done litde work. He owed 
his position as Director General of Museums and Superintendent 
of 'Beaux-Arts to Princess Mathilde Bonaparte. Though he as- 
siduously courted the artistic world with weekly soirees at the 
Louvre, he remained suspect and was never accepted as a confrere. 
On his side, Nieuwerkerke was resentful that the Acad6mie 
failed to appreciate his talents as a sculptor, and in revenge he 
saw to it that official plums fell to students not affiliated with the 
Ecole des beaux-arts. As president of the jury, he controlled the 
Salons and announced policies and awards. He was, in short, a 
dangerous enemy for the academicians, as his authority was second 
only to the Minister of Beaux-Arts, an office generally filled by 
a politician. 

Eugtee-Btnmanuel Viollet-le-Duc was another opponent of the 
academicians. He had refused instruction at the Ecole des beaux- 
arts and had resisted the vogue of classicism. His taste ran to the 
medieval, which he studied outside any organized school The 
French government employed him to work on public monu- 
ments, and in the meantime, he began compiling two works 
which are still regarded as authoritative: Dictionnaire raisonnS de 
f architecture franfaise du XI* au XVI* si&cle, and Dictionndre 
du mobilier frangais, de Ftpoque carlovingienne d la Renaissance. 
It is obvious that Viollet-le-Duc knew the Gothic period thor- 
oughly, and, while there is disagreement about the taste of some 
of his restorations, he was a skillful draughtsman and architect. 

Yet Viollet-le-Duc was virtually isolated in his medieval camp, 
as the battle lines in French art were occupied by the classical 
and contemporary factions. His independence led him to publish 
in 1846 an attack upon the Academy's monopoly of teaching, and 
he persisted in the assault. The academicians ignored him, and it 
is remarkable that his honors were bestowed by foreigners. The 
Royal Institute of British Architects, for example, awarded him a 
gold medal in 1863. Perhaps it was his countrymen's indifference 
that whetted Viollet-le-Duc's ambition to be the master of fine 
arts in France. Such a role would allow him to blast the classi- 
cists from the'Ecole des beaux-arts and inaugurate a renaissance 
based on the Middle Ages. 


The problem was to win the Emperor's confidence. His Majesty 
knew virtually nothing of art, but his well known generosity and 
his solicitude for the improvement of French institutions offered 
Viollet-le-Duc the opportunity to gain the imperial support in a 
matter of reform without requiring a discussion of philosophies 
of art. He was introduced to court at Compiegne by the novelist 
Prosper M6rime, who was close to the Empress, having been her 
French tutor, and here he ingratiated himself by advising on 
furnishings and helping to produce the moronic skits of which 
Her Majesty was so fond. Meanwhile, he interested the Emperor 
in the restoration of the nearby fortress of Kerrefonds, which 
was accomplished in 1862. 

Soon afterward Nieuwerkerke received instructions to re- 
organize the Ecole des beaux-arts, and the plans which he drew 
up unmistakably showed the influence of Viollet-le-Duc. New 
courses were outlined which placed greater emphasis on the 
history of art and upon aesthetics, and which made the study of 
French monuments equal to those of the Greeks and Romans. 
The importance of the Prix de Rome was reduced by shortening 
the sojourn from five to two years. In a clause calculated to in- 
furiate the academicians, it was proposed that winners of the Prix 
de Rome spend their two years in countries of their choice, not 
necessarily Rome or even Italy. To balance the fury of the acad- 
emicians, another clause was inserted lowering the maximum 
eligible age for the prize from thirty to twenty-five, which 
thoroughly annoyed the students. Another blow was the removal 
of the Ecole des beaux-arts from the control of the Acadmie 
des beaux-arts. Henceforth, the school would be governed by a 
board presided over by the Minister of Beaux-Arts. Napoleon 
signed the decree on November 13, 1863. 

The pillars of French art were seemingly struck at their foun- 
dations. There were cries of tyranny and indignation from the 
Academy, Ingres refused to accept the decree, and his pupil, 
Hippolyte Flandrin, collapsed in tears. But the crowning insult 
was yet to come. Five days later a ministerial decree named 
Viollet-le-Duc professor of art history and aesthetics. It was a 
question of rival philosophies of art, of unexpected governmental 

248 Gustave Ccmrbet 

interference, and of vested interests those of the academicians 
and the students. The classical ideal was to be challenged in the 
classroom by a man who was not merely a medievalist, but who 
insisted that the nature of materials and the uses of a building 
must determine its conception. Viollet-le-Duc believed he had 
liberated French art. 
Hippolyte Flandrin revived to answer back: 

You talk of liberty, of liberty of teaching. I say to you that there 
is an age to learn and an age to judge and choose. It is only at this 
latter age that there can be any question of liberty, this liberty which 
so concerns you. I hold that in a school of fine arts, as in any other, it 
is the government's duty to teach only uncontested truths, or at least 
those that rest upon the finest examples accepted for centuries. You 
can be sure that once out of school the pupils will create the truth of 
their own time from this noble tradition: truth that will have good 
tide to its name, because it will be the product of a true liberty, while 
the teaching of the pros and cons in the same place and, so to speak, 
from the same mouths can only produce doubt and discouragement. 

Count Nieuwerkerke arrived at the Ecole des beaux-arts on 
January 29, 1864, to install the new professor, accompanied by 
Prosper M6rim6e and Th6ophile Gautier. The latter was prepared 
to write an account of the first lesson for the Moniteur. Viollet- 
le-Duc took the speaker's chair and began his address, "Messieurs" 
and the riot began. Each student had been assigned a noise. The 
packed hall was loud with the clucking of chickens, the trumpet- 
ing of elephants, the roar of lions, the braying of donkeys, the 
mewing of cats, and the yapping of dogs. A select few merely 
shouted insults. Nieuwerkerke got up to make indignant gestures, 
inaugurating the second phase of the assault: potatoes, eggs, paper 
bullets, and pennies. 

Having nobly resisted the siege for nearly thirty minutes, the 
dignitaries began a retreat. This was the signal for loud applause. 
Quickly, then, the students formed ranks and followed the group 
out. Nieuwerkerke turned to glare at the students and was treated 
to a mass saket d&risoire. The dignitaries then set out on foot for 
the Louvre and were trailed by anything but a solemn procession. 
One group of students would begin the air from William Tell: 


"O del! tu sais si Mathilde m'est chere!" And the second group 
would respond, "A sa Mathilde, O Qel qu'il coute cher!" Then 
the aria would be interrupted by shouts of, "Oh, Beaver!" 

Nieuwerkerke could understand the Rossini reference to 
Mathilde Bonaparte, his mistress and benefactress, but he expressed 
his confusion to Gautier when it came to "Oh! Beaver!" The 
embarrassed Gautier pretended not to know, though the shout 
was unmistakably a reference to a new house near the Park Mon- 
ceau, which Nieuwerkerke had just built. For those not conver- 
sant with zoology, it is necessary to add that in building his house 
the beaver makes important use of his tail 

The procession followed Nieuwerkerke right into the Louvre, 
where the police interfered. Mathilde was wild with anger, but 
Napoleon III, who had been much annoyed by the open liaison 
between Mathilde and Nieuwerkerke, was vastly amused. Nieu- 
werkerke was soon appointed Senator by way of compensation, 
but the Emperor took no action against the students. As for 
Viollet-le-Duc, who had spoken but one word, his professorship 
was transferred to Hippolyte Taine, who received an ovation 
from the students. 

We find Courbet in 1865 grieved by the death of Proudhon. 
The two had met in 1848 when Proudhon was first elected deputy, 
and the latter had lauded Courbet as being a socialist painter. In- 
deed, they were kindred spirits. Proudhon was a humanitarian 
and hated the exploitation of the poor, as did many other think- 
ers of the nineteenth century. The social conditions of early in- 
dustrialism in the West were unquestionably bad, but it has not 
always been realized that the poverty and squalor of the indus- 
trializing society is flagrant because it is concentrated. Poverty, 
lack of sanitation, and exploitation were known before the nine- 
teenth century, but they were less observed in rural communities 
where one was deceived by fresh air and rustic charm. That in- 
human practices were merely more apparent in the nineteenth 
century in no way, of course, excuses them. 

250 Gustave Courbet 

Two results can be noted which will, in part, explain the rad- 
icalism of the Realists and underscore what has previously been 
written here about their faith in materialism. Sensitive altruists 
were increasingly inclined to search out economic solutions for 
the evils they perceived, just at a time when industrialization, by 
raising the possibility of a high standard of living for all, spurred 
the peoples of the West to think of material welfare. Secondly, it 
is more than probable that economic welfare had become an ideal, 
for, if one recalls men like Saint-Simon, Proudhon, and Marx, 
one sees their lack of faith in the ideals of liberal government or 
in religion. As critical as misery itself was the fact that so many 
thinkers could see no farther than the realm of the exploited. 

Proudhon was a man of contradictions. He disbelieved in 
Western liberalism, but he hated and feared the proletariat. Ul- 
timately he opposed political power and the state as a principle 
of evil This was in direct contradiction to traditional Christian 
teaching, which has held that the state is necessary because of 
man's sinful nature. Proudhon was anti-Marxist in that he believed 
that sovereignty rested in the commune. The state would not be 
political, but "economic"; that is, it would be an agency to con- 
trol production and distribution. How many of these ideas Cour- 
bet shared we do not know. He flattered himself on his know- 
ledge of politics an unjustifiable pride and claimed to under- 
stand Proudhon. 

The association with Courbet was the stimulus for Proudhon's 
writing a book on art. He originally intended a pamphlet, but 
concluded with a book: Du Principe de Fart et de sa destination 
sodale (The Basis of Art and Its Social Objective). Courbet was 
asked to collaborate and did contribute ideas, but the work is ob- 
viously Proudhon's. He knew nothing of aesthetics, thought that 
art for art's sake was degrading, and judged art by its social 
significance. For him, the artist was a social leader who should 
not divorce art from politics: 

I define ... art as an ideal representation of nature and of ourselves 
directed towards the physical and moral improvement of our species. 
. . . The aim of art is to guide us to a knowledge of ourselves 


through the revelation of all our thoughts ... all our tendencies, 
our virtues, our vices, our absurdities, and thus to contribute to the 
development of our dignity, to the improvement of our personalities. 

Courbet's association with Proudhon made the former believe 
his forte was political and social symbolism, whereas in truth 
his portraits and landscapes were his best work. Proudhon's death 
grieved Courbet, and, planning to do a bust and portrait, he re- 
quested a photograph and a death mask. The bust was never 
completed, but "Proudhon and His Family" appeared in the Salon 
of 1865. It was thought bad at the time and is still regarded as 
one of his poorest works. 

For three months after Proudhon's death, Courbet painted at 
the seaside resort of Trouville. He produced more than thirty- 
five canvases, mostly seascapes and portraits of fashionable 
women. This flood of canvases suggests at once the artist's vigor 
and shallowness. One of his subjects was Joanna Heffernan, the 
mistress of James McNeill Whistler: "The Beautiful Irishwoman." 
Whistler had earlier been influenced by Courbet, but by 1865 he 
had rejected Realism, holding that the defiance of tradition merely 
satisfied the artist's vanity. 

The Salon of 1866 was relatively successful for Courbet. The 
critics were more favorable, but Maxima Du Camp touched him 
in his vulnerable spot: "If a knowledge of how to paint were 
enough to make an artist, M. Courbet would be a great one." 
Courbet had this to say of himself: "I am unquestionably the 
great success of the exhibition. There is talk of a medal of honor, 
of the legion of honor. . . ." Nieuwerkerke approached Courbet 
about the purchase of the two most successful pictures from the 
Salon: 'Woman with the Parrot" for the government and "Covert 
of the Roedeer" for the Empress Eug6nie. There developed an 
honest misunderstanding about details, but before it could be 
ironed out Courbet had fired an irate letter at Nieuwerkerke ac- 
cusing him of bad faith. One wonders to what extent Courbefs 
politics would have changed had he been able to consummate any 
of these abortive sales to members of the imperial family. 
The government planned another Exhibition universelle for 

252 Gustave Courbet 

1867 like the one held in 1855. Courbet, again planning to com- 
pete with the rest of the universe, began the construction of a 
gallery. His fecundity in canvases had, by this time, made him a 
wealthy man, and he was able to finance the gallery himself. He 
planned to collect three hundred of his own paintings for the 
show, and, as a pleasant gesture, donated three minor pictures to 
the official Salon. As his enthusiasm waxed, he developed the 
lunatic idea that Napoleon III would demand the privilege of 
opening his show. 

His Majesty, however, failed to arrive at the show's inaugura- 
tion, and there is no record which states that, deprived of this 
lofty honor, he sulked at the Tuileries. Indeed, a good many of 
the hoped-for canvases failed to arrive. Courbet opened with one 
hundred and fifteen, later adding twenty. The critics again felt 
the undertaking to be in bad taste, and once again paid admissions 
were few. One of the ticket collectors seemingly could not dis- 
tinguish between the money box and his own pocket, which 
necessitated his incarceration. To cap it all, several canvases were 

In 1868 the government required Courbet to demolish his 
gallery, ending his competition with the Salon. Yet, he sent only 
two pictures to the Salon, "Buck on the Alert" and "Beggar's 
Alms." The latter, crammed with social significance, was another 
of Courbet's "roadside series," and was ill received. It showed a 
frightful beggar handing a coin to a gypsy child, while in the 
background the gypsy mother suckled a second child along the 
road and a wretched cur, the product of generations of casual 
breeding, stood glowering. 

Quite apart from aesthetics and philosophy of art, many of the 
pillars of the French Second Empire objected to Courbet's sub- 
ject matter because it was drawn from a social level they pre- 
ferred to ignore. Had he idealized his peasants and workers, there 
would have been fewer complaints. It is true that Napoleon HI 
was genuinely concerned for the amelioration of the masses, but 
his r6gime and its supporters stood for Order. The Emperor, 
paradoxically, was often accused of socialist tendencies, but it 
is undeniable that the era was one of bourgeois predominance. 


And the bourgeois bought pictures, often for nonaesthetic reasons. 
Pictures have, for instance, a financial and social value, and it is 
notable that Courbet's later financial success was achieved with 
masses of landscapes, portraits, and still lifes, and not with can- 
vases of social significance. Where is the new millionaire who 
prefers the sight of the "vile multitude" to a delectable nude? 

Courbet received two foreign awards in 1869. He won a first 
gold medal at the Brussels International Exposition, and at a show 
in Munich, Ludwig II gave him the Order of Merit of St. Mi- 
chael. Both Belgium and Bavaria were monarchies. Thus, Courbet 
felt obliged to assert that there had been no government inter- 
ference in either case. The artists of Brussels, it seems, had elected 
the jury; the artists of Munich had required the King to honor 
him. This made the prizes safely nonmonarchical. 

New honors came the following year. Courbet was nominated 
by the government to serve on the jury for the Salon of 1870. 
Respecting Eniile Ollivier, the new chief minister, he agreed, 
but ultimately did not receive enough votes to require him to 
serve. He sent only two seascapes to the Salon: "Stormy Sea" and 
"Cliffs at Etretat." The reviews were favorable and his sales were 
mounting. In April of 1870, for example, he sold nearly forty 
canvases for about 52,000 francs. Then he was offered the Legion 
of Honor (Chevalier), which he refused, deeming it a monarchi- 
cal award. Here is a fragment from Courbet's letter to the Min- 
ister of Beaux-Arts, Maurice Richard: 

The state is incompetent in matters of art. When it undertakes to 
bestow awards it is usurping the function of popular taste. Its inter- 
vention is altogether demoralizing, injurious to the artist, whom it 
deceives as to his true worth, injurious to art which it shackles with 
official conventions, and which it condemns to the most sterile medi- 
ocrity; the wisest course is to keep hands off. By leaving us free it will 
have fulfilled its duties toward us. 

Count Nieuwerkerke resigned the directorship of museums on 
September 4, 1870, two days after Sedan. Several days later a 
group of artists met at the Sorbonne, dedicating themselves to 
protect art in Paris and her environs. They established an Art 

254 Gustave Courbet 

Commission and elected Courbet president of it. The Commission 
oversaw the sandbagging of monuments, the packing of valuable 
books and documents, and the storage of art works from second- 
ary museums in the vaults of the Louvre. 

The Provisional government named Jules Simon Minister of 
Beaux-Arts and Education. He, in turn, appointed an Archives 
Commission on September 24, 1870, with a view to discovering 
any frauds or thefts by officials appointed under the Empire. The 
bureaucracy was exonerated by this investigation, much to Cour- 
bet's annoyance. He resigned his place on the Art Commission on 
the grounds that he could not approve the retention of any offi- 
cial who had served the Empire. He forgot that they had been 
serving France. 

This initial quarrel with the Provisional Government (the 
Government of National Defense) festered and grew worse. In 
fact, Courbet's attitude mirrored that of a good many Parisians. 
He said that the siege was a farce, though the inhabitants wanted 
to fight. The government did not want a republic to save France. 
"All that crowd of traitors, rogues, and idiots who governed us 
have never fought anything but sham battles, killing a great many 
men for nothing." He believed General Trochu, Military Gover- 
nor of Paris, to be a nincompoop. All this from a man who would 
do no fighting. . 

Sentiments such as these account for the flight of the govern- 
ment to Versailles in March of 1871 and the establishment of the 
Paris Commune government. Courbet was elected to the govern- 
ing body of the Commune, representing the Sixth Arrondissement. 
He also headed a committee called Commission fed6rale des 
artistes, whose duty it was to divorce art from government con- 
trol The committee abolished the Acad6mie des beaux-arts, the 
Ecole des beaux-arts, and the Academies in Rome and Athens. 

I am in heaven. Paris is a true paradise; no police, no nonsense, no op- 
pression of any kind, no disputes. Paris runs by itself as if on wheels. 
It should always be like this. In short it is sheer bliss. 

In April, however, bliss gave way to danger. The Versailles troops 
increased their pressure, and a majority of the Commune govern- 


ment agreed, for the sake of expediency, to give dictatorial powers 
to a Committee of Public Safety. Courbet. logically, opposed the 
move, but was outvoted. 

Meanwhile, the Venddme column had become an issue. After 
Sedan and the collapse of the Empire, many Republicans had 
called for its destruction on two grounds: they regarded it a 
Bonaparte monument, and its bronze could be used for artillery. 
The column had originally been ordered by Napoleon I in 1803, 
Austrian and Russian cannon providing the bronze, and he in- 
tended a statue of Charlemagne on top. Charlemagne never 
reached the summit, however, but was generously presented to 
Aix-la-Chapelle, leaving room on the column for Napoleon in 
imperial Roman garb. A white flag replaced His Majesty in 1814, 
but Louis-Philippe restored him in an army uniform. Finally, 
Napoleon III got around to a third statue of his uncle in 1863, once 
again in Roman dress. 

Courbet, as a Republican, was enthusiastic for the column's 
removal, but, in his capacity as President of the Art Commission, 
he felt obliged to protect the ornamental bronze sheeting. In a 
vaguely worded motion he proposed to unbolt the sheeting and 
remove the column to Les Invalides. The Commission, in Sep- 
tember of 1870, apparently agreed, but it must be remembered 
that this body was self-constituted and completely unofficial. The 
decree ordering the column to be demolished, April 12, 1871, said 
nothing about unbolting the sheeting, and was passed one week 
before Courbet entered the government for his brief tenure. The 
deed was actually accomplished on May i6th in the presence of 
a large gathering. 

Shortly thereafter, the Versailles troops blasted their way into 
Paris, and the Commune came to its ghastly end. Courbet, no 
longer a member of the Commune, did not bother to flee the 
victorious troops, but his confidence was unwarranted. His ar- 
rest came on June 7th, though he asserted his political action had 
been taken solely in the interest of the national art treasures. He 
was indicted before the Third Council of War of the first mili- 
tary division in Versailles on July 25, 1871. 

The indictment was reasonable. It acknowledged that Courbet 

256 Gustave Courbet 

had opposed the establishment of the Committee of Public Safety, 
that he had acted to preserve art works, and that he had not been 
a member of the Commune when the destruction of the column 
had been decreed. On the other hand, he had participated in a 
movement to overthrow the Government of National Defense, 
had incited civil war, and was an accomplice in the destruction of 
a public monument. He took the stand on August i4th and was 
very decently treated by the military court, but he could not 
avoid being held responsible for his support of, and participation 

in, the Cranr^nA. 

He was not sentenced until September 2nd, and the three-month 
ordeal had seriously undermined his health. Six additional months 
in prison were awarded, plus a fine of five hundred francs and a 
proportionate share of the trial's cost. It was a mild sentence, if 
one remembers the bitterness of the struggle. Courbet, in addition, 
shouldered the expenses of thirteen other defendants: 6,850 francs. 
In prison, he was required to make felt slippers, until in November 
he was at last allowed to paint. By the end of 1871 his condition 
demanded hospitalization, and he remained in the custody of a 
physician until March 2nd, when he was free. It had been a humil- 
iating and shattering experience. 

Because of political chaos, there was no Salon in 1871. The 
following year Meissonier led a group which demanded, on polit- 
ical grounds, that Courbet be permanently excluded from the 
exhibitions. Poor Courbet had insufficient defenders, for he had 
made few friends in his life. He returned to Ornans in 1872 to 
regain his health. Sun and air, painting, and a vigorous sale of 
canvases combined to restore him, though he suffered from cir- 
rhosis of the liver, which he attributed to having carried water 
to extinguish a burning house. He even began negotiations for a 
new mistress, a young peasant girl named L6ontine, and he found 
it "inconceivable" that she should reject "the brilliant posi- 
tion. . . . She will be unquestionably the most envied woman 
in France." But L6ontine preferred the young men of the village. 
Replied Courbet: "All the village clods possess intellectual quali- 
ties almost equal to those of their oxen, without having the same 
market value." 


The instability of the French government after the Empire 
was actually a threat to Courbet, as the moderates were contin- 
ually in danger from the reactionary factions. Members of the 
latter openly favored making Courbet pay for the Vendfime 
column. In anticipation, Courbet transferred the tides of some of 
his properties and even shipped canvases to Switzerland to avoid 
confiscation. His creative power was slipping along with his 
physical power. Yet the desire to build up a stock of pictures 
abroad led him to allow others to finish his paintings, though they 
bore his name. By employing this factory method, his sales were 
earning him 20,000 francs a month. 

Courbet's fears were not unfounded. On May 24, 1873, a 
I^distTBonapartist faction came to power led by MaidiaLMac- 
Mahon, the Duke of Magenta. Six days later a bill was passed 
oEEging Courbet to bear the cost of reconstructing the column. 
There had been no precedent for saddling a private individual 
for damage done to public property during civil strife. Yet, he 
was a tempting victim: rich and possessed of few friends. Cour- 
bet instantly gave his sister Zo6 instructions about his remaining 
properties, and had she acted more swiftly the government would 
have profited little. The confiscation order came on June ipth, 
and Courbet himself passed into Switzerland on July 23rd. He 
never saw France again. 

La Tour-de-Peliz, near the eastern end of Lake Geneva, be- 
came his last home. He hired aides, and the mass-produced art 
continued. Furthermore, this gigantic production encouraged 
forgeries which became numerous after 1872. Heavy drinking 
went with heavy painting. Courbet consumed more than ten 
quarts of Swiss white wine a day, plus absinthe. Few challenged 
his claim to be the foremost drinker in Vaud. 

Courbet's flight did not end the Vend6me affair; he retained 
Lachaud, who had defended him in 1871, to battle on in France. 
Courbet, of course, was increasingly vague about the details, 
though he had written notes in 1871. These were in the possession 
of his sister Zo6, but she would not surrender them. Her behavior 
throughout those troubled years was enigmatic: sometimes loyal, 
sometimes malicious, sometimes idiotic. 

258 Gustave Courbet 

Courbet's case against the confiscation came to trial in June of 
1874, but the court not only confirmed the confiscation; it author- 
ized additional seizures. He was still condemned to pay the cost of 
reconstructing the Venddme column. The Court of Appeals con- 
firmed this verdict in 1875. The government presented an esti- 
mate of 286,549 francs, which was revised in 1877 to 323,091 
francs. His lawyers negotiated an agreement which would allow 
him to pay installments of 10,000 francs a year and would spare 
him a prison term. No interest would be charged, though he 
would be assessed 5 per cent on overdue payments. This arrange- 
ment, signed on May 4, 1877, lengthened the settlement for more 
than thirty-two years. It was a crushing burden for a man fifty- 

Presumably, Courbet could have safely returned to France, but 
he was loath to go while the MacMahon group still threatened 
to prevent a democratic republic. Furthermore, his physical con- 
dition was rapidly deteriorating, and he refused to give up wine. 
He fell into the hands of a quack just when his cirrhosis was 
producing dropsy. His waist became enormous, sixty inches, and 
he was tapped several times, each time to the tune of sixteen or 
seventeen quarts of fluid. The collapse of the MacMahon regime 
heartened him, but it was too late. 

His father and sister Juliette arrived one day before the end, 
bringing a pound of French tobacco, which evoked his last smile. 
Death came on the last day of 1877. 


Emile Ollivier 


lei finit le plaisir et commence la peine. 


260 Emile OUivier 

JLhe son of D&nosthne OUivier, Emile was born in Marseille 
on July 2, 1825. Their home was governed by politics, and 
Rousseau was the daily fare; D6mosth&ne was an ardent Republi- 
can who doubled in Masonry and plotted with the Carbonari. 
His wife's death in 1834 led him to place his children in a home 
he ranked politics before parenthood and for five years the 
children saw their father in Marseille only during summer vaca- 
tions. Demosth&ie was ever willing, however, to house political 
refugees from Italy, and in 1839 && generosity led to bank- 
ruptcy. He gave up his business, collected the children, and 
moved to Paris. 

Despite his poverty, he placed Emile in the College Sainte- 
Barbe and was rewarded when the boy won the bachelor's degree 
in 1841 at the age of sixteen. Emile immediately began to teach 
night school to put himself through law school, and four years 
later he was licensed to practice before the bar in Paris. Wishing 
to excel as an orator, he took diction lessons to rid himself of his 
Provengal accent, and he read widely history, philosophy, 
theology, and literature. 

After the Revolution of 1848, D6mosth&ne Ollivier was elected 
Deputy to the Constituent Assembly from Marseille, and he sat 
with the Mountain. A friend of the Minister of the Interior, Ledru- 
Rollin, D6mosthine secured an office for his son: Commissioner 
for the departments of Bouches-du-Rhdne and Var. The welcom- 
ing crowd in Marseille was dismayed by the youth of the new 
Commissioner (he was twenty-two), but his initial speech won 
their cheers. In this address and in his subsequent proclamations, 
he balanced his praise for Republican principles with appeals for 
moderation and order; by stressing Fraternity rather than Equal- 
ity he hoped to unite his people behind the Republic. Many of the 


provincial people were conservative and feared that the Republic 
meant the Terror. OUivier won their confidence by a series of 
shrewd refusals: he would not allow a local Republican fanatic 
to become mayor of Marseille; he refused to imprison the Bishop 
and refused to form a Committee of Public Safety. 

He was petitioned from all sides by office seekers, by cranks, 
and by men who hoped for political immoderation as an oppor- 
tunity to work out personal vendettas. He met his first crisis on 
March nth, when a mob of workmen demonstrated against the 
presence of foreign laborers who had been brought in during an 
earlier labor shortage: 

You want to be liked; like others. . . . Do you want to show your- 
selves worthy of liberty? . . . You called them in during prosperous 
days, because they were indispensable to you. Keep them during dif- 
ficult days, because they need you. ... It is not sufficient to write 
Fraternity on our banners; we must become imbued with it, and it 
must live in our actions. 

Concerned for the welfare of the workers, Ollivier established 
National Workshops, which employed nearly nine thousand men. 
They worked on a new seawall for Marseille and on developing 
the Durance Canal. He instituted a labor Committee whose mem- 
bers were elected to represent various trades, and personally pre- 
sided over discussions of labor problems. 

The initial enthusiasm for Ollivier waned in the spring of 1848, 
as the fear of revolutionary violence vanished, offering the ex- 
treme Leftists opportunity to undermine him. They insinuated 
that his moderation was actually devotion to the July Monarchy 
and convinced Ledru-Rollin that an investigation was in order. 
Unfortunately for Ollivier, the inspector shared the extremist 
views. Consequently, OUivier's powers were reduced and his tide 
changed: he became prefect of the Bouches-du-Rh6ne on June 
10, 1848. 

Several days later he was in serious trouble. A mob of over 
three hundred men, waving a red flag, entered the courtyard of 
the prefecture, and Ollivier went out alone to meet them. They 
accused him of betraying the workers, as he had not championed 

262 Emile OUivier 

an eight-hour day, and refused to let him speak. Doubtless they 
would have killed him except for the timely arrival of a farmer 
armed with an ax, whose furious intent intimidated the three 
hundred. OUivier had previously consented to be the godfather 
to this farmer's daughter, and was thus repaid. 

Refusing to be bullied, Ollivier gave orders next day for the 
arrest of the mob's leader, who was president of the local Monta- 
gnards. The workers raised barricades in the streets, and Ollivier 
found it useless to warn them that the Republic was the friend 
of Labor and ought not to be compromised by violence. He 
ordered the local National Guard against the barricades, but the 
officers were reluctant to take orders from one so young. Thus, 
he had to order in troops from Aix, Avignon, Aries, and Tarascon, 
and peace was restored after a day's fighting. Many workers, 
grateful for Ollivier's obvious sympathy, had refused to join the 
insurrection, and Ollivier refused to apply repressive measures 
once the fighting was over. Of course, he was then attacked by 
the Rightists. 

The Provisional President, Cavaignac, then withdrew Ollivier 
from Marseille and named him prefect of Haute-Marne. Embit- 
tered, he went to Chaumont reluctantly, but once there devoted 
himself to administering efficiently in the hope of popularizing the 
Republic. He became popular himself and was spoken of as a 
desirable candidate for Parliament, but the jealous incumbent 
secured Ollivier's recall as prefect in 1849 to destroy him as a 
rival. A petition of protest was signed by 32,000 citizens of the 
department, but Ollivier was not reinstated. Later, he was offered 
a new post, but refused it in his disgust. 

Ollivier now turned to the practice of law, but was inop- 
portunely interrupted by his father's political troubles. D6mos- 
thine was not reelected in 1850 as Deputy from the Bouches-du- 
Rhdne and wanted to stand for election in Var. He needed his 
son's eloquence in the campaign, and Emile heeded the call, 
though confident his father could not win. The election was 
lost as foreseen, but their campaign had annoyed Haussmann, 
then prefect of Var, and Emile Ollivier was charged in Draguignan 


with attempting to organize clubs for political action. He was 
acquitted, but the enmity between Haussmann and Ollivier re- 

Back in Paris, Ollivier discovered that being a Republican had 
become less respectable after the bloody June Days, and he found 
it hard to obtain clients. In his spare time he began to study Saint- 
Simon and often went to Holy Father Enfantin's, where he met 
Michel Chevalier, the P6reire brothers, and Prince Jerome-Na- 
poleon. His unemployment was not quite complete, thanks to 
the calamities suffered by his relatives. Aristide Ollivier, his 
brother, publisher of a Republican journal in Montpellier, was 
killed by a Royalist in a duel following a polemic which Aristide 
had written. It fell to Emile to defend his brother's paper in 
court, which he did successfully. 

Shortly afterward his father was summoned to appear before 
the Paris Assize on December 2, 1851, to face a charge of con- 
spiring to overthrow the government. D&nosth&ne Ollivier had 
been one of the Republicans who, anticipating a coup on the part 
of the President, advocated the President's arrest. Emile rushed 
back to Paris from Montpellier to defend his father, arriving 
during the night of December 1-2. He awoke in the morning to 
find Louis-Napoleon's coup <f6tat an accomplished fact and 
D6mosth&ne in flight. Betrayed five days later, the latter was 
taken by the police. No doubt he would have received a serious 
sentence perhaps deportation to Cayenne had it not been for 
Prince Jerome-Napoleon, who secured him a passport for Bel- 

For some months Emile Ollivier was idle, utterly dejected by 
the events of the three preceding years; only in 1852 did he 
begin to revive. That year he became secretary to a leading 
lawyer and accepted a few clients of his own, and he renewed 
acquaintance with a former school friend, Ernest Picard. Not 
until 1857, however, was he entrusted with cases sufficiently 
important to win him legal recognition. In particular, the case 
of the Marquise de Guerry v. the Convent of Kcpus was sig- 
nificant, as it pitted Ollivier against the Royalist Berryer, 

264 Emile Ollivier 

prominent in both law and politics. Ollivier's presentation was 
considered far more brilliant, and the Republicans naturally saw 
him as a strong candidate for public office. 

Meanwhile, Ollivier had become a patron of music. He was 
often invited to the salon of Comtesse d'Agoult (who used the 
literary pseudonym Daniel Stern), whose two daughters, Blandine 
and Cosima, had been fathered by Franz Liszt. Ollivier fell in 
love with Blandine, and the two were married on October 22, 
1857 Liszt's birthday in Florence. Ollivier was thirty-two, she 
twenty-one. Cosima married Hans von Billow in the same year, 
but this marriage ended in divorce and Richard Wagner became 
her second husband. 

Wagner often visited Liszt in Paris, and at Liszt's suggestion 
Ollivier undertook to protect Wagner's legal rights in France. 
Ollivier accepted the task as an obligation to music, for Wagner 
was neither a paying client nor a good friend. He heard Wagner 
sing portions of Tanrihauser at Listz's and was soon seconding 
the Princess Metternich's demands for a performance at the 
Opera. Napoleon III ordered the celebrated Paris premiere to 
please the Princess, but the Emperor, the Princess, and Ollivier 
were an ineffective claque at the performance in competition with 
the Jockey-Club. 

Ollivier and Blandine were supremely happy together. True 
to her father's art, she pkyed the piano beautifully and filled 
their home with glorious sound. But she did not recover from 
the birth of their first child, Daniel; lingering several months, 
she died at Saint-Tropez, only twenty-six. 

In the meantime lie Republicans prepared to marshal their 
forces for the election of 1857, but the restrictions upon the 
liberty of the press and the right to hold public meetings made 
electioneering by the Opposition difficult. Furthermore. France 
seemed samfiftd jgkh the Empire. The Parisian Republicans drew 
up a list of candidates, nevertheless, from the "Men of '48"; ex- 
cept for Jules Simon these candidates were relatively aged, which 
led the Republican command to nominate a younger man 
Ollivier to run in the Tenth District where there was no hope 
for a Republican anyway. The younger men resented this 


gerontocracy, and a quarrel centering at first about a personal 
antagonism between General Cavaignac and L6onor Havin 
split the party into factions immediately before the election. 

Consequently, the Republicans presented two slates of candi- 
dates, and Ollivier ran in the Fourth District against the govern- 
ment's candidate, Varin, and the older Republican Garnier-Pag&s. 

The latter was eliminated in the first balloting, giving Ollivier 
the combined Republican vote and victory in the runoff. Four 
other Parisian Republicans were elected: Carnot, Cavaignac, 
Goudchaux, and Darimon, giving the Republicans victory in half 
the city's electoral districts. Only one Republican Deputy was 
elected in the provinces: H6non from Lyon. 

The victorious Republicans were not of one mind about taking 
the oath to support die Empire, which was required upon assum- 
ing one's seat in the Corps 16gislatif . The older members favored 
staking a pose of high-principled refusal and, thus, abdicating 
their seats, while the young preferred to become a loyal op- 
position. Only Ollivier, Darimon, and H6non took the oath; they 
were seated on the left rear benches in the Corps 16gislatif and 
studiously avoided by the other members. In 1858 elections were 
held to fill the vacant seats, and returned two more young Re- 
publicans, Picard and Favre. The Three had become The Five, 
and Ollivier was recognized as their leader. 

The first hint of OUivier's policy came in the same year, fol- 
lowing Orsini's attempt upon the life of Napoleon III. The 
government asked for additional security powers, which were 
not only repressive but unnecessary, for die assassination attempt 
had been made by an Italian who commanded no following in 
France. Ollivier spoke against granting the emergency powers 
and recalled the example of William III of England, who, after 
thirteen years of rule, was regarded as the restorer of the public 
liberties. This speech foreshadowed the alliance between the 
Empire and liberalism, to which, in 1858, most Bonapartists and 
Republicans were hostile. 

The Liberal Empire was never promulgated as sudu-Instead 
the jjggjjy^g^p LjAatingjfrom 1851 was abandoned ii^ piecemeal 

fashion, hegiVmjn JT in r*jjjJ5Qj ffi gfog tl^T j 

i66 Emile Ollivier 

concession t-n popnlaji^^manH. Victor Duruy, the Emperor's 
most durable and successful Liberal Minister, believed that Na- 
poleon III was more liberal than the Bonapartists. In the face of 
his own party's opposition, His Majesty could at best move 
slowly toward parliamentary monarchy, while his natural inertia 
and his painful illness contributed to his apparent hesitation. 

Historians have^eneraUy^oj:..been.kind..tQ^Iapoleon III, feel- 
ing th'at^he drift toward Liberal^JEmpke was xjpportunistic and 
notjiieaated-by^any^ncere direjbljbLCL.JiberaL The Emperor 

^ owed his throne to the strength of 
the Napoleonic Legend, a legend whose myths he had accepted 
as reality from childhood. Consequently, he .was as imbued with 
the totaMfatfiarraspects of boiBcpartism as with its Jacobinraspects, 
two seemingly irreconcilable elements made compatible by the 
notion that Liberty could only derive from Order. 

The War of 1859 against Austria on behalf of Italian nationalism 
was the first of the Emperor's liberal measures; he provoked 
the war despite the opposition of his party and his wife. The 
Cofrden-Chevalier Treaty of 1860, negotiated by free traders, 
produced a reduction in tariffs, which Napoleon forced upon 
the French manufacturers. Later that year, the Decree of Novem- 
ber 24, 1860, reestablished Parliament's right to reply to the 
speech from the throne, commanded the ministers without port- 
folios to defend the government's projects in parliamentary de- 
bate, and opened parliamentary debates to publicity for the first 
time. "The Empire," said Proudhon, "has made a half-turn to the 

In the spring of 1861, a bill to liberalize control of the press 
came before the Corps 16gislatif, and Ollivier, in speaking for a 
free press, thanked the Emperor for the decree of the previous 
November and recognized his "courage and generosity": 

When you are head of a nation of thirty-six million people; when 
you have been acclaimed by that nation; . . . when you are the most 
powerful of sovereigns; when destiny has drained herself of favors 
for you; when everything has been given to you; when, by a cele- 
brated good fortune, you have emerged from prison to mount the 
throne of France after suffering exile; when you have known all the 


sadnesses and all the joys, there remains to taste only one pleasure 
which surpasses all the others: to be the one who courageously and 
voluntarily initiates a great people into liberty, who rejects his faint- 
hearted and faithless counselors to put himself directly in the presence 
of the nation. 

The Republicans were stunned and disconcerted by Ollivier's 
speech, for only Darimon had known in advance that OUivier 
approved the Decree of November 24th. It was bad enough to 
have the Emperor stealing their liberal thunder without having 
the Republican leader in the Corps 16gislatif applaud the theft. 
An angry Caniot pubHcIffjqiiestK)^ father 

" TTT <*m1A nn^y .c^jr-nf the 

Enjjeror as the initiator of French- liberties; but a minority of the 
Republicans, including Jules Ferry and L6on Gambetta. suspected 
that Olli^fi3; ? c decicion to cuppori libtul lefuiim wiiliia the 
framftwork_nf jfte Fmpire was die only alternative to Republican 
impotence^ A majority of the older Republicans referred to this 
minBlftJTas the "" 

Morny, President of the Chamber and one of the fewJLibegl 
Bonapartists, naturally welcomed Ollivier's speech. The two men 
had had a much publicized encounter in the Chamber after the 
news of the Decree of November 24th: 

Morny: Well, I suppose you are happy? 
Ollivier: Yes, only you are founded or lost 
Morny: How's that? 

Ollivier: You are founded if this is only the beginning; you are lost if 
this is the end. 

Hopeful that the Empire was making an important conquest, 
Morny carefully edited Ollivier's speech of thanks before its 
official publication, but his editing did not pass unnoticed. A 
Deputy inquired from the floor why the phrase chance Ugendcdre 
(celebrated good fortune) had been changed to hfros legend air e 
(legendary hero), and why the clause "as for me who am a 
Republican" had been expunged from the text. 

Morny explained only his second revision. He had ordered the 
revision to avoid calling Ollivier to order, since the remark was 

268 Emile OUivier 

unconstitutional in character. He added that OUivier was free 
to reestablish the original clause and the Chamber free to insist 
upon it. The incident was embarrassing for OUivier, who was 
grateful for Morny's attention but not yet ready to cast free 
from the Republicans. Consequently, he wrote Morny a note to 
clarify his original words, and Morny duly had the note pub- 
lished in the Moniteur. The older Republicans, however, were 
rightly fearful that Morny had made a major breach in their 
ranks. Ollivier's Journal reveals that on that day he recognized 
that continuing to put his principles above party discipline would 
likely lead to expulsion from the party; he did not intend to 
leave of his own accord, but neither did he intenfl to. oppose 

To avoid being compromised by Morny, Ollivier avoided his 
company whenever possible. A chance encounter outside the 
Chamber late in 1861 was the occasion for Morny to assure 
Ollivier that the Empire would continue to go in a liberal direc- 
tion. The next year, Ollivier agreed to meet Morny in private for 
the first time. The latter was confident that a parliamentary 
regime would, in time, be established, and he hoped to be the 
first responsible Prime Minister. Such assurances, coming from 
the Emperor's half-brother, could only have encouraged Ollivier 
in the path he had already chosen, and when upon the death of 
his wife Ollivier received an especially sensitive letter of con- 
dolence from Morny, his reserve began to disappear. 

As the election of 1863 approached, some of the Republicans 
favored ejecting Ollivier from the party ranks, but Gambetta 
argued successfully that the party had an obligation to support 
every one of The Five. Consequently, Ollivier ran as a Repub- 
lican, and this time in both Paris and Var. He was beaten in 
Var, as his father had been before him, but won in Paris. Morny 
congratulated Ollivier on his election and hody castigated the 
Minister of the Interior, Persigny, for having opposed Ollivier 
with an official candidate. 

Fearing a clean break with the Republicans, Ollivier refused 
an invitation to call on the Emperor, but he did not balk when 
Morny suggested that they work together in Parliament for legis- 


larion beneficial to laborers. In February of 1864, then, when a 
bill came before the Corps 16gislatif to liberalize the laws re- 
stricting combinations, Morny appointed Ollivier the reporter for 
the parliamentary commission named to examine the bill. Rouher, 
Minister of State, was furious at the Emperor for allowing the 
bill in the first place he remarked that the Emperor had just 
joined the International and at Morny for daring to show such 
confidence in a member of the Left. The Republicans were 
equally annoyed, and accused Ollivier of selling out to the 

The provisions of the old Chapelier Law of 1791, which pro- 
hibited workers from combining and striking, had been incorpo- 
rated into the Code Napol6on. The proposed Law of 1864 
allowed workers the right to form coalitions, but not to associate. 
Association meant a permanent organization; coalitions existed 
only for temporary periods, giving workers the right to defend 
themselves by organizing. The law, furthermore, would give 
workers in coalition the right to strike, providing they avoided 
violence and were striking for "justifiable grievances" meaning 
for genuine economic reasons and not for revolutionary or ob- 
structive reasons. In tfris-way tho government hopcd~to improve 
the rights of wojjffir? Trithfmt admitting thr principle of nninrij, 
as dens of conspiracy vy th* *irip|f>yfrrc nf 


In their eagerness to attack Ollivier, the Republicans bitterly 
denounced the bill, despite the fact that the law was intended 
to improve the workers' lot, and allied themselves with those on 
the extreme Right who regarded the measure as dangerously 
radical. Of^ox9rse,the Republicans argued that the measure was 
inadequate,- but~J^^ 

\diat^could.Jbj^.had than to dwell upon the Jmjrosable. "I do 
not limit myself to criticizing what it lacEs; I am thankful for 
what it gives me." The Coalitions Law passed 222 to 36, and 
marked the public break betweenOllivier and the Left. 

now an accepted fact. Upon 

his return to Paris from a winter vacation, January, 1865, Ollivier 
went first to see Morny. The latter suggested that their next 

270 Emile Ollivier 

project be a liberal press law, that once again Ollivier should 
be its reporter, and that Ollivier should now be willing to go 
to the Tuileries to meet His Majesty. Morny refused OUivier's 
suggestion, however, that Morny should become reconciled with 
Prince Jerome-Napoleon, and he assured Ollivier that the Liberal 
Empire would develop slowly under the Emperor's direction 
without the aid of the erratic cousin. 

The sudden death of Morny in March of 1865 must have been 
a serious shock to Ollivier, but it came as a boon to the con- 
servative Bonapartists and the Republicans. The "Little Olliviers" 
drifted back into the Republican camp; and, except for a handful 
of loyal men, Ollivier seemed isolated and without political future. 
Naturally, the Deputies were curious about OUivier's next move 
and were attentive when he rose to speak on March zyth. He 
began by thanking the government for its liberal reforms, but 
criticized its failure to do more: 

You say to me, "If the government follows the advice you give, it 
will be committed to a fatal path; to resist is the principal art of 
governing." I believe the exact opposite. I am convinced that govern- 
ing is the art of yielding, the art of yielding without seeming to be 
forced, the art of yielding at the proper moment to the legitimate ex- 
pressions of a people. . . . 

If Charles X had not attempted a coup d'hat against his own consti- 
tution; if, in 1829, he had returned to the fine policy of 1819; if, in- 
stead of following Polignac, he had listened to Chateaubriand, Royer- 
Collard, or Guizot, he would not have learned a second time how bit- 
ter is the bread of exile. 

If Louis-Philippe had not marred so many noble qualities with a 
senile stubbornness; if he had not shut himself off from association 
with able men, from electoral reform, and from lowering the property 
qualifications; ... if he had been more solicitous for French glory 
and for the people's suffering and for their rights, he would not have 
rediscovered in his later years the trials of his youth, and all the 
agitation of 1847 and 1848 would have been terminated by a Barrot 
and Thiers ministry and not by a Revolution. . . . 

But let us not misconstrue: to yield is not sufficient. It is necessary 
to yield at the proper moment neither too soon nor too late. . . . 
As for the Empire, it is not too soon; it is not too late: the time is now. 


He concluded by turning to the Republicans and barkened back 
to the days when he, as a Republican, believed that form of 
government was fundamental to all other questions: "I was in 
error. The best government is that which exists from the moment 
the nation accepts it." If one subordinates progress to form of 
government, he told them, one is simply surrendering to the 
necessity of revolution. 

Napoleon III, it is true, was pleased by Ollivier's speech, but 
after Morny's death His Majesty was almost as isolated at court 
as Ollivier was in Parliament. The Empress, Rouher, and most 
of the courtiers were conservative, and Rouher feared Ollivier 
as a possible rival for power. Against Rouher, Ollivier could 
count on the support of Walewski, Morny's successor as Presi- 
dent of the Corps 16gislatif, though Walewski was weak and 
without Morny's authority. In the cabinet, Duruy would support 
Ollivier, but what was one minister against a conservative ma- 
jority? Prince Jerome-Napoleon also favored Ollivier, but the 
imperial cousin was regarded as a pest by the Emperor and 
heartily disliked by the Empress. 

Napoleon III .degfoied to-oneet-Ais-oppodtion head-on, but, 

While pofitponjr^ literal r^ Tmff) fa W nrV*d *n rAfoin O1- 

livier's support in thejiopej^^ Morny, before his 

"S\^ to be invited to the Tuileries. His 
first visit, on May 6, 1865, happened to coincide with the Em- 
peror's tour of Algeria, but he was received by Eugenie. He 
found her friendly and kind, eager to hear him discuss the 
principles of liberalism, which she admitted made no sense to 
her; but during the audience he agreed to serve on an investigating 
committee which Her Majesty was sponsoring to look into cases 
of juveniles held in La Roquette prison. 

The Empress summoned him again on June lyth, ostensibly 
to discuss die committee's work, but the Emperor quickly inter- 
rupted the meeting and turned the talk to politics. The meeting 
had obviously been staged, a minor illustration of Napoleon Hi's 
love for the devious method. Asked what reforms should be 
forthcoming, Ollivier spoke for freedom of the press and for 
unhampered elections. The interview was a personal success for 

272 Emile Ollivier 

both men. Napoleon III was convinced that Morny had been 
right and Rouher wrong in judging Ollivier as an honest man 
and not merely an ambitious politician. And Ollivier had been 
charmed by the Emperor: "What great things we will do together 
if Napoleon III really wishes to establish liberty!" 

In 1866, however, Napoleon's speech from the throne gave no 
hint of further reforms; apparently, the conservative Bonapartists 
had prevailed at court. As a response to this speech, the fourteen 
Independent Deputies, led by Thiers, proposed suggesting that 
the stability of France could no longer be threatened by the 
"wise progress" of political institutions. Rouher attacked the 
suggestion as implying parliamentary government, and the gov- 
ernment beat down the proposal; but in losing, the Independents 
rallied 63 votes (without Republican support) against the govern- 
ment's 206, a notable protest against Rouher's policy. 

Nevertheless, Ollivier had begun to despair for the future of 

liberalism. The Fmpprnr'g namr*! itiftitfa and his painful iflness 

robbsd him of the vitality necessary to combat the conservatives, 
and a do-nothing policy seemed m fre tV r ^ CTl1 t Y*tj by the 
year's end, the regime had suffered embarrassing defeats in 
foreign affairs the unexpected Prussian victory at Sadowa and 
the necessity of evacuating Mexico and Napoleon III was forced 
to continue the consolidation of the regime: the 
a Liberal Empire 

Legend. The conservatives regarded the regime's setbacks as the 
product of the liberal reforms already instituted, but His Maj- 
esty's actions were generally conceived in the spirit of the 
Legend's holy writ. HeJbaA^wnrFrancs dfderJTieTmBt now 
give hf.r liberty, In those healthier, happier years beginning in 
1859, he had drifted toward liberalism because he could; 'in the 
years of sickness and shadows he drifted toward liberalism be- 
cause he must. 

Toward the end of 1866, the Emperor conferred with Walew- 
ski at Compigne about new reforms. They agreed to propose 
a more Ubej^Lpress-Jaw and to require cabinet ministers to go 
before the Chamber to explain and defend government policies. 
The ktter proposal would have the incidental effect of reducing 


the authority of the Afijjistei^>fJ5ta^ by making him 

merely a liaison between the executive and legislative branches, 
as had been originally intended, instead of the sole spokesman 
for the government. Ollivier had hoped for the institution of 
true parliamentary government, but agreed to support these pro- 
jected reforms. 

Walewski then approached Ollivier with an offer of a cabinet 
post, stating that the Emperor needed OUivier's support; but 
Ollivier was reluctant to join the government before parliamentary 
government had been established, and finally consented only if 
three conditions should be met: freedom of the press; acceptance 
of the principle of German unity; a constitutional amendment 
making it possible for a minister to retain his parliamentary seat. 
These terms were given to the Emperor on January 2, 1867, who 
asked for several days to consider them. 

Meanwhile, Ollivier regretted his decision and, on the tenth, 
called on Napoleon to insist on the advisability of remaining 
outside the cabinet for the moment. The talk was friendly, and 
the Emperor said: "We are in agreement. A resolute and liberal 
step is necessary: I merely hesitate over the proper moment." 
Clearly, too, the Emperor wished to demote Rouher, but shrank 
from a direct clash with the Empress. Consequently, he begged 
Ollivier to interview the Empress immediately in the hope of 
securing her approval of Rouher's dismissal, and he asked if 
Ollivier would be willing to interview Rouher in the Emperor's 
study. Ollivier agreed to both interviews. 

His meeting with the Empress produced nothing. Revealing 
herself intransigent, Eug6nie sanctioned neither Rouher's re- 
moval nor new liberal reforms which would be of consequence. 
Ollivier was then confirmed in his decision not to join the cabinet 
until such time as parliamentary government would be guaranteed. 
In later life, he admitted that his own intransigence at this point 
was a mistake, for he left the field open to Rouher and the 

Abetted by the Empress, Rouher ignored his scheduled meeting 
with Ollivier. This defiant stand, however, failed to bluff Na- 
poleon HI, who, on January 19, 1867, decreed that all ministers 

274 Emile Ollivier 

would participate in the debates of the Corps 16gislatif and that 
new laws relative to the freedom of the press and of assembly 
would be presented. Rouher, then, changed his tactics and pre- 
tended to champion the reforms he actually did not favor and 
intended to sabotage. Accordingly, he agreed to honor the Eni- 
perbr's suggestion that he discuss the projected reforms with 

Believing that Rouher's new orientation was sincere, Ollivier 
cooperated with Rouher in good faith; his disillusionment came 
shortly. He found that Rouher was organizing a secret ring of 
Deputies devoted to defeating all of the Emperor's reform 
projects, and he found himself the victim of slander. Rouher 
whispered that Ollivier had been so ambitious for office that he 
had been eager to traffic with his opponent, and when Rouher 
began again to show his true conservative hand few doubted 
that Ollivier was anything but a vile intriguer. Prince Jerome- 
Napoleon was among those who recognized Rouher's trick and 
refused to join the general outcry against Ollivier, but Rouher 
using his new prestige gained in discrediting Ollivier then 
turned on WalewskL and forced his resignation as President of 
the Corps tegislatif . 

Thus t agjn, Tfrfr^ thr^n^rviitive Bonaparrists had triumphed 
over tSfiJFrnpnror and Ollivier-In July of 1867, Ollivier furiously 
attacked Rouher in the Chamber, using the phrases "grand vizir," 
"mayor of the palace," and even "vice-emperor without respon- 
sibility." He was called to order by the new President, Eugene 
Schneider, but not before Rouher had been severely stung. To 
pkcate Rouher, Napoleon presented him with the Grand Cross 
of the Legion of Honor, whereupon Ollivier refused further in- 
vitations to the palace. 

The Republicans, who had been among the first to participate 
in Rouher's campaign to vilify Ollivier, found it opportune in 
1868 to open a subscription for a monument to honor Baudin, 
one of their number who had fallen during the coup d?6tat 
of 1851. To test- his party loyalty, they asked Ollivier to sign the 
subscription list. He rejected their proposal on the grounds that 
such a monument was an encouragement to revolution, and that 


too much had been accomplished in the direction of Liberal 
Empire for him to sanction revolution. The Republicans chose to 
interpret this as Ollivier's approval of the coup cTttat, and they 
were agreed that he should not be accepted as a Republican 
candidate for the elections of 1869, forcing him to run as an 


He knew that his campaign would be tutile unless the charge 
of opportunism, made by Rouher in 1867, could be proved false. 
Thus, he decided to publish a book which would reveal the 
constancy of his political position. Originally entitled The Nine- 
teenth of January, referring to Napoleon Ill's liberal decree of 
that date, Ollivier ultimately published his book on March 3, 
1869, under the title A Report to the Electors of the Third 
District of the Seine. The key document reproduced in the book 
was a letter from the Emperor dated January 12, 1867, and he 
had felt obliged to ask His Majesty's permission to publish it. 
Permission was readily granted on the grounds that "I repent 
neither the sentiments nor the ideas which I manifested to you 
at that time." 

In less than a month's time, the book sold 20,000 copies. 
Sensational because it was the first revelation of the private 
talks between Napoleon, Walewski, Ollivier, and Rouher in 
1867, the book also revealed that Ollivier had been instructed 
to talk to Rouher, and that there had been no "selling out" to 
Rouher indeed, that Rouher had been the scoundrel in the 
affair. Ollivier had been helpful in bringing about the reform 
decree, true to his principle of loyal opposition in the interest of 
liberalism, while Rouher had maneuvered to defeat the Em- 
peror's will. 

The zealotry with which Rouher set out to defeat Ollivier's 
attempt at reelection in 1869 suggests that he felt his own career 
at stake. He used his influence to have the Third District in 
Paris gerrymandered; likely a Republican stronghold in any 
event, the removal of more moderate voting sections to neighbor- 
ing districts ensured a Republican victory. And in Var, where 
Ollivier had stood unsuccessfully before, the prefect received 
word from Rouher to spare no effort to beat Ollivier again. 

276 Emile Ollivier 

Rouher's strategy succeeded in Paris. The balloting began on 
May 24th, and Ollivier was overwhelmed two to one. But His 
Majesty interfered in Var, refusing to allow an official candidate, 
and while Ollivier did not have the official designation he was 
soon known to be the Emperor's man. In the provinces the chore 
of beating a Republican was not too difficult, and Ollivier won 
16,000 to 8,000. That there were 12,000 abstentions reveals that 
many of the conservatives refused to vote for Ollivier despite 
the Emperor's will, and had an official Bonapartist candidate 
been entered it is doubtful that Ollivier could have been elected. 
Even under the favorable circumstances of the election, no one 
was more astonished at his victory than he himself. 

The election of <*S^L produced forty Opposition Deputies, of 
whom thirty were Republican, giving the Opposition only eight 
more parliamentary votes than in 1863. These figures mislead, 
however, for two reasons: the Opposition was less scattered than 
before and could become more effective through Republican 
discipline. Secondly, the popular vote for Opposition candidates 
increased markedly: 3,355,000 votes against 4,438,000 for official 
candidates. Therefore, in the face of a solid victory for its 
candidates, the government still had reason to be nervous. 

The conservative Bonapartists demanded that Napoleon III 
crown their victory by reconstituting the cabinet along more 
conservative lines; but Ollivier, utilizing his new prestige as 
the "Emperor's man," rallied 1 16 Deputies, who signed a petition 
favoring responsible government. (The 116 Deputies did not 
include the Republicans.) Napelcon IILmade a typical response 
to this dnnhlq pressure; he ga3CLhe appearance of taypring^Soth 
sjdg^Acrnnlly, of rnnrsp. he favored OlfajSSlffi 
an3Tie announced on July i2th that he was ready to take his 
"third step" the Decrees of November 24, 1860, and January 
19, 1867, being the first two. Hev^ranted the Corps 16gislatif the 
right to choose its own officers, ^ r fiasftd its pow^r *o -initiate 
arid, .amend legisEaon^md-gave^it the right to vote the ^budget 
4>y^ectingrDeputies could, henceifortK; 'bgfcomcantSisters with- 
out losing their parliamentary seats, but he stopped short of 
decreeing ministerial responsibility. 

To placate the conservatives at least momentarily, the Emperor 


reconstituted his cabinet in their favor on the same date, ap- 
pointing men who were, in general, opposed to the Emperor's 
new decree and who could not long have commanded the con- 
fidence of the Chamber under a situation of ministerial respon- 
sibility. As true parliamentary government seemed near at hand, 
it is small wonder that the new ministers suspected their tenure 
would be short. Even the chief conservative was missing from 
their ranks: Napoleon III had rid himself of Rouher by abolish- 
ing the Ministry of State and retiring its incumbent to the Presi- 
dency of the Senate. 

Among Ollivier's followers there was some disappointment that 
true parliamentary government had not been fully instituted, 

hnj* nilrpifff had learned that TSJapnlenn TTT trinrauL-glmxrly ^d 

carefully in the face of serious opposition. Consequently, he 
congratulated the Emperor on the reforms and accepted an 
appointment as President of the Var Departmental Council. The 
Republicans expressed their disappointment, too, the violence of 
their opposition increasing after July izth; but did their violence 
really represent their disappointment or their fear? If the Empire 
was on the verge of becoming parliamentary, what would be 
left for them? In the meantime, die reforms announced on July 
izth were sanctioned by a decree of the Senate (sSnatus-consulte) 
on September 8th. 

In October, Ollivier and Napoleon HI began discussions rela- 
tive to supplanting the conservative cabinet of July i2th. When 
inviting Ollivier to Compi&gne on October 3ist, the Emperor 
suggested that he come at night and in disguise to avoid inter- 
ference by the press and the court circle. Thus, Ollivier boarded 
the train in the Gare du Nord without his glasses and wearing a 
false nose. He conferred with the Emperor in secret for two 
hours, setting down his terms for entering the government; re- 

<frryQvpopfn1 rfttt-lftmpnf nf 

Prussia and France; and occupation of Rome at least nnriLthe 
Vatican 1 'pnngiMTajgriigh^4 it* sitting. These terms were ac- 
ceptable to the Emperor. 

Ollivier also wanted the conservative Minister of the Interior, 
Forcade de La Roquette, removed upon his own entry into the 
cabinet, but the Emperor said that he would require at least a 

278 Emile Ollivier 

month to prepare this direct challenge to the conservatives. Con- 
sequently, Ollivier agreed to wait while the Emperor prepared the 
ground. In the interim, the Emperor was suddenly aware that he 
had not discussed with Ollivier the fact that the constitution did 
not provide for a Prime Minister, and he wrote to Ollivier ac- 

Ollivier answered that he had never mentioned the office of 
Prime Minister because he thought the Emperor ought to con- 
tinue to preside over cabinet meetings. Responsible government 
did not necessarily imply a Prime Minister, but merely homo- 
geneity within the cabinet with the ministers devoted to the 
majority in Parliament. Under such circumstances, Ollivier would 
accept a cabinet appointment. 

A second letter from Napoleon requested that Ollivier draw 
up a list of possible ministers, adding that he was on the verge 
of sending Forcade de La Roquette to the Council of State. Then, 
on November 29th, His Majesty went before the Corps tegislatif 
to open a special session: 'Trance wishes liberty, but with order," 
he said. "As for order, I am responsible; but help me, Gentlemen, 
to preserve liberty." In response, a new parliamentary group drew 
up a petition for responsible government, which attracted 136 
signatures and which the Republicans promised to support. This 
gave the Emperor a clear mandate to disimiss the conservative 

On December ijth Ollivier received the following letter from 
the Emperor, which was published the next day in the Moniteur: 

Monsieur le Dput6, The ministers having given their resignations 
to me, it is with confidence in your patriotism that I ask you to desig- 
nate the men who can form a homogenous cabinet with you, which 
will faithfully represent the majority in the Corps tegislatif, which 
will be resolved to applyboth in letter and in spirit *he s&iatus- 
consulte of September 8. 

I am counting on the devotion of the Corps tegislatif to the major 
interests of the country, as on yours, to aid me in the task which 
I am undertaking to make the constitutional regime function cor- 
rectly. . . . 

Actually, Napoleon III gave Ollivier free reign to select only 
ten of the twelve ministers; as the Emperor was responsible for 


the national defense, he thought the ministers of War and the 
Navy should have his confidence. General Le Boeuf and Admiral 
Rigault de Genouilly, in consequence, were retained from the 
previous cabinet at Napoleon's request. OUivier's only difficulty 
came in filling the post of Foreign Affairs, which Count Daru 
finally accepted. OUivier himself took the Ministry of Justice, 
to which he added the Ministry of Cults. The cabinet was finally 
assembled on January 2, 1870. On that day the ministers agreed 
that French foreign policy should proceed on the assumption that 
the hegemony of Prussia in Central Europe was a fait accompli, 
and that the Emperor should be asked to terminate his private 
correspondence with French ambassadors abroad. Thus was the 
Ministry of January 2nd launched. 

The machinery of responsible government was as yet imper- 
fect, and years of experience would be required to make the 
new form efficient and practical. In particrd 

Of tJTg mnnqrf^jrftTf r W a _dJffi/nt1^f/fif-^^^ 
tqfnrglgflp fn Iti^j^^rnnnflrrKy^^t^ rQmggL.Of^OTlg_rfJga Com- 
pelled Napllfirm TTI to f fffirt an ev^lntion nrrogiplished inJEng- 
land, during thf^ reigi^s of jrVn-frmr lat^r Smarts. Though the 
analogy is not perfect, the Government of January 2nd resembled 
cabinet government in the time of William HI and Anne more 
than in die time of the first two Georges. 

As Napoleon HI continued to preside at cabinet meetings, 
the post of Prime Minister did not exist. Th^4eading minister, 
in thisj:ase Qllivier r was actually a vice premier and wafc given 
the title Ke?f^Qj^.S&^[&arde des sceaux). As tor ministe- 
rial rSponsibility, the Senate's decree of September 8th stated 
that the ministers would be "dependent" on the Emperor, de- 
liberating in council under his presidency, but "responsible" to 
^"^L^wfr Hmififf and ipipeachable by the Senate. The apparent^ 
aqjbiguity in the Ministry's responsibility probably Serived from 
an attempt to express the Ministry's simultaneous responsibility 
to Parliament and loyalty to the crown. The Emperor continued 
to be responsible to the people directly. 

The new ministers were men of integrity, and though seven 
of the twelve had had no ministerial experience, their appoint- 
ment unleashed a wave of optimism which was immediately 

280 Emile Ollivier 

registered on the Bourse. This confidence was reflected by the 
Due de Broglie, Doudan, Montalembert, and Girardin, whose 
writings avowed that the government had been reconstituted on 
a firm basis. Even some Republicans, like Picard, admitted that it 
might soon be necessary to rally to the Empire. 

While all the ministers favored responsible government, tjjg^ 
cabinet was actually divided. One faction, led by Ollivier, wisfcett* 
to kgep-tfee-Einpei uiTTnfluence strong; the other group, led 
by Daru and Buffet, hoped to continue the development of re- 
sponsible government along the British model. Ollivier's position 
was partly conditioned by his personal attachment to the mon- 
arch, whom he had begun to address as "Cher Sire." Naturally, the 
Emperor favored Ollivier: "You are the first of my ministers to 
understand me." 

On January 3rd the ministers paid their respects to the Em- 
press, whose conservative and clerical views were well known. 
Her reply to the ministers was significant: as long as the minis- 
ters had the Emperor's confidence, they could count on her 
"good will." By omitting the word, she made it known that the 
ministers did not have her confidence. In the days that followed, 
her hostility to Ollivier was so evident that the second Mme. 
Ollivier went to the Empress's "Mondays" only rarely. (He 
married Marie-Th6rse Gravier in 1869.) 

Baron Haussmann was the first of the conservative Bonapartists 
to have challenged Ollivier (after the election of 1850 in Var) 
and was the first to feel the ire of the new liberal cabinet. Hav- 
ing threatened to resign as prefect of the Seine should Ollivier 
become a minister, Haussmann had failed to do so counting 
on the Emperor's personal support and the cabinet unanimously 
voted his removal from office. Haussmann was hated, despite the 
wonders he had worked in the transformation of Paris, for sup- 
posed irregularities in the management of funds and for his arbi- 
trary manner. Parliamentary investigations had been unable to 
touch him, thanks to imperial protection, and % ijjKa&-a^Bitter 
momentrfe^fapeleoiiJILsKhen he hadtctsiga^hejcad^ 
's dismissal. Hgjdidjp, but with tears. 

During the Ministry's first week, th^TCepubficans made known 


their intention to remain in opposition, though privately many 
of them despaired for the party's future. Then, on January loth, 
the government suffered a cruel shock, which restored Republi- 
can hopes; Pierre Bonaparte shot a Leftist editorial writer. 

Fifty-four at the time, Prince Pierre was the third son of 
Lucien. He was reared in Italy, where he spent much effort as 
an agitator in the Papal States; living a violent life, he had once 
before been involved in murder. In 1848 he followed his father's 
republicanism rather than the Bonapartism of the family name, 
so that under the Empire he was tolerated but not made part of 
the family circle. His services were refused by Napoleon III, 
and though entitled to be called "Highness," Pierre was rarely 
seen at court. 

Preceding the murder, Prince Pierre had engaged in a journalis- 
tic duel with Paschal Grousset, a writer on La Marseillaise, who 
had attacked Napoleon I in an article. Grousset finally sent two 
seconds to arrange for a duel with arms, one of whom was Victor 
Noir (Yvan Salmon). Instead of meeting Pierre's seconds, they 
called on him personally bearing arms, and he received them 
armed as was his habit. A short argument followed, ending with 
the death of Victor Noir and the flight of his companion. 

Ollivier acted swiftly. The murderer was arrested the same 
evening, and preparations were made for his trial The victim's 
newspaper moved equally swiftly, publishing a call to revolution 
penned by Henri Rochefort: 

I have had the weakness to believe that a Bonaparte could be some- 
thing other than an assassin! I dared to suppose that a straightfor- 
ward duel was possible with this family where murder and snares are 
tradition and custom. . . . For eighteen years now France has been 
held in the bloodied hands of these cutthroats, who, not content to 
shoot down Republicans in the streets, draw them into filthy traps in 
order to slit their throats in private. 

The government could not have been more embarrassed. The 
journal had to be seized for inciting revolution, which would 
only give the appearance of official partisanship. Who would re- 
member that Prince Pierre had been non grata at the Tuileries 
in fact, a Republican? Worse, a Senate decree of June 4, 1858, 

282 Emile Ollivier 

provided for special criminal jurisdiction in cases involving mem- 
bers of the imperial family. As the law applied in this case, a 
special jury would have to be picked from among the members 
of the departmental councils, and the possibility of a whitewash 
could not be denied. 

Ollivier did his best to remind the public that the government 
represented justice and liberty, adding that the government rep- 
resented force only when threatened. But the Republicans in- 
tended to squeeze every possible advantage from the unfortunate 
incident and rallied nearly 100,000 people for Noir's funeral. The 
Republican leadership was divided on how far it could push 
the mob in the face of vigorous government defense measures, 
and the uprising sputtered and died for lack of direction. Roche- 
fort was condemned to six months in prison for provoking civil 
strife and for offense to the Emperor's person. 

In the meantime the High Court was convened in Tours to 
try Prince Pierre. The evidence was inconclusive, and the Court 
ultimately decided to accept the defendant's plea that he had 
fired in self-defense. He clamed that he thought the two seconds 
had come to kill him, and their unorthodox procedure in arrang- 
ing the duel gave some credence to the Prince's version of the af- 
fair. Consequently, he was acquitted, a decision hardly comf ort- 
ing to a government newly instituted in the name of liberty and 

The Government of January 2nd was reform-minded. An 
ancient grievance that justices of the peace meddled in politics 
was now answered with an order that judicial and political pow- 
ers should be clearly separate. Similarly, teachers as employees 
of the state were warned to avoid political activity. Freedom 
of the press was decreed, though it was still illegal to publish 
material insulting to the Emperor, designed to promote disobedi- 
ence in the Army, or to provoke revolution. The General Secu- 
rity Law of 1858, voted after the Orsini attempt, was unani- 
mously revoked by the Chamber upon the cabinet's initiative. 
Other reforms were outlined and their study begun: a civil r6- 
gime for Algeria, industrial legislation, and electoral reform in 

The reform of the Senate's powers meant constitutional amend- 


ment and, hence, a plebiscite. Originally, the Senate had been 
given the sole power to pass on the constitutionality of legislation 
and to amend the constitution. The liberals now favored dividing 
the legislative powers between the two houses, and on March 28th 
they proposed to give the two houses equal authority and make 
the Ministry responsible to both houses. Ollivier went before the 
Senate to speak in favor of the amendment; he argued with effect 
that the Senate had the opportunity to give France a free govern- 
ment and that this liberty, available for the first time without a 
revolution, would therefore not be subject to the reaction ruin- 
ous to revolutionary regimes. 

Impressed, the Senate unanimously voted the constitutional 
changes requested on April 2oth, but failed to clarify the ambi- 
guity in the Ministry's responsibility. The EmperorlstfflHaoini- 
nated anjjjjggj^ftH tninifrft,rfi, -vi^ deliberated fa-^wical nndfr 
his jpjgSdency. and who^ were dependent upon him; they were 
also responsible to IJaSiamenfc (^ 
cotflcf cause trouble. 

Ollivier's election to the Academic frangaise at this time was a 
measure of the intelligentsia's confidence in the sincerity of Na- 
poleon III; had they suspected him of bad faith the embargo 
upon his ministers would not have been lifted so promptly. The 
election was obviously political, as Ollivier had published little 
and as Montalembert practically on his deathbed took the 
initiative in the nomination. 

The cabinet split over the necessity to hold a plebiscite. Those 
favoring the plebiscite were those who also favored the Emperor 
retaining considerable authority; Daru and Buffet, who cham- 
pioned the creation of a prime ministership, resigned when the 
cabinet voted for the plebiscite. The Republicans were anxious 
when the plebiscite was announced, fearing a substantial imperial 
victory, but the government was far from confident anticipating 
public indifference rather than opposition. The day was May 8, 

The people approve the liberal reforms of the Constitution by the 
Emperor in effect since 1860, done in conjunction with the principal 
governmental bodies, and, thus, ratify the Senate Decree of April 20, 

284 Emile Ollivier 

After the disappointing returns in the election of 1869, the gov- 
ernment was overwhelmed by the results of the plebiscite: 
7,358,786 voted Yes, 1,571,939 voted No, and 1,894,681 abstained. 
These figures were comparable to the plebiscite which ratified 
the coup d'etat of 1851, when 7,439,216 voted Yes, 640,737 voted 
No, and 2,171,440 abstained. The Republican Gambetta gave the 
verdict: "It is a landslide; the Emperor is stronger than ever." 

Ollivier thought of taking the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
himself after Dam's resignation, but decided instead to devote 
his attention to consolidating the Liberal Empire. Prince Jerome- 
Napoleon recommended the Due de Gramont to Ollivier as an 
experienced diplomat. Gramont, Ambassador to Austria for eight 
years, cut a fine figure, but he mistook his own grand manners 
and beauty for diplomatic skill and thought himself at least the 
equal of Bismarck. This reckoning was not shared by Bismarck, 
who had styled Gramont "an ox" and "the most stupid man in 
Europe," remarks which were swiftly carried to Gramont. 

Despite the public's interest in the constitutional reform of 
1870, no one could entirely forget the lengthening shadow of 
Prussia. The jjk^l-nfltinnal movement, which Napoleon HI 
reprreentejajwas^ T^ri hy Pn^sjaVrirtory 

oyeF^ATTSfrk, a yictory whfch was natranal Ymt nni- KKeral Both 
sides had bargained for French neutrality: Prussia had promised 
to restrict her territorial expansion to areas north of the Main 
River in compliance with Napoleon Ill's desire to strengthen the 
secondary states of the Germanic Confederation, and both Aus- 
tria and Prussia promised Napoleon that Venetia would go to 
Italy. Military opinion held that Austria and Prussia were evenly 
matched and that a war between them would be a lengthy affair; 
Napoleon, hence, anticipated that the war would leave him arbi- 
ter of Europe. From that lofty perch he would allow the forma- 
tion of a stronger Prussia, which would be federated with the 
smaller states of the Germanic Confederation. He did not mean to 
unify the German nation (as he had not meant earlier to unify 
the Italians), bjjtJ^a^resJEuUfedera^^ 

The difficulty' with diis dcsigHy^asJIbigrejpointed out in the 
Chamber, was the possibility thatthe Germans would proceed 


frQDOL.ederation to unification and 

But BoQapaiS^'prinS^piS dictated that Napoleon III be as solici- 
tous for German nationalism as he had been for Romanian and] 
Italian nationalism; the notion was that the Bonapartist frontiers, 
drawn to make nationalities free and self-governing, would pro- 
duce general peace and stability in Europe. Incidentally, of 
course, bits of territory lost by France when the Bonapartist 
world collapsed in 1815 would be returned as the price of Napo- 
leon Ill's arbitration. 

These calculations were outmoded by the brilliant Prussian 
success at Sadowa. As a long war of attrition was avoided, Prussia 
was left in a powerful position to dictate-Jsrnis to Austria; the 
services of the Utopian arbiter were not required, which meant, 
in addition, that the frontiers of 1814 could not be claimed, The 

in chnrf j ^JSJg^|^^Jnpr on 

thejidelines, and the government in Paris understood that a_seri- 
duTtogofpresrige was inevitable unless the French were capaMft 
of a_boAd stroke. Drouyn de Lhuys, Marshal Randon, and Per- 
signy advocated immediate French intervention to dictate peace 
to both sides, and perhaps had Napoleon not been suffering an 
especially acute attack of the stone during the week of Sadowa a 
show of military strength would have been made. Inaction must 
have encouraged Bismarck to believe that he was dealing with 
weakness and division in Paris. 

Benedetti, French Ambassador to Prussia, was ordered to 
Nikolsburg, where Bismarck was to receive the Austrian emis- 
saries, in the hope of salvaging something which would be bene- 
ficial to French prestige. During the armistice negotiations, the 
French maintained the fiction that they were mediating between 
the two Germanic powers, and Benedetti hinted that France 
would require compensation for her services. Austria ceded 
Venetia to France for transfer to Italy, but Bismarck avoided 
committing himself about "a little tip" for France. Instead, he 
proceeded to arrange his own terms with Austria, which the 
French supinely supported in the hope of Bismarck's good 

The Nikolsburg terms became the Treaty of Prague. Prussia 
excluded Austria from Germany by bringing the Germanic 

286 Enule Ollivier 

Confederation to an end, but except for Venetia Austria was 
allowed to maintain her territorial integrity. Leaving the German 
states south of the Main independent, Prussia annexed Hanover, 
Schleswig-Holstein, electoral Hesse, Nassau, and Frankfurt; the 
remainder of the North German states were to be organized into 
a confederation with Prussia. The Austrian indemnity was so 
modest, finally, that in assessing the defeat the Austrians saw that 
their major loss had been to Italy by way of Napoleon III. 

Only when the terms had been agreed upon did Benedetti ad- 
vance the French claims for compensation: the frontiers of 1814 
(Saarbriicken and Landau) with an added dash of Rhineland 
territory or perhaps Luxembourg. But a government which 
seems to be hanging around for tips creates the same impression 
as its human counterpart servility and weakness and Bismarck 
sensed he had become the master. He rejected the demands as 
offensive to German national sentiment, but implied that he 
would support compensation at the expense of Luxembourg and 
Belgium. Benedetti, invited by Bismarck, penned the draft of a 
treaty suggesting the French claims to this non-German territory. 
The draft did not sanction the forceful annexation of Belgian 
or Luxembourgeois terntory, 1>ut merely France's right to nego- 
tiatejtfae purchase of the territory^pflr cKases lafliich would be 
ratifiedby plebiscites. UNO matte? how legal the transaction, 
Bismarck knew the British would balk at French annexation of 
Belgian territory, and he filed Benedetti's draft away as a useful 

Meanwhile, Napoleon HI determined to press for Luxembourg 
alone. Negotiations were opened for its purchase with the King 
of the Netherlands, who was also Grand Duke of Luxembourg, 
and arrangements were begun for a plebiscite. It happened, how- 
ever, that Luxembourg, which had been a member of the former 
Germanic Confederation, was garrisoned by Prussian troops, and, 
in 1867, Bismarck inspired a rumor in Parliament that "German" 
soil was about to be surrendered to France. Both the Dutch and 
the French were intimidated by the resultant outcry, and the 
negotiations for the sale collapsed. With them went Napoleon 
Hi's hope that he would crown the sale with a Franco-Prussian 


alliance. This diplomatic defeat was all the more stinging as the 
French government had prematurely hinted that its Luxembourg 
policy had been successful. 

In CEfl5pM"fl*fen, tht FlT t THh._f"'"ftd inward Austria in Tftftj t 

proposing an alliance. These overtures failed because the Austrian 
intiernal situation was serious after two failures in war; further- 
more, Hungarian influence had become the dominant factor 
in the Monarchy's foreign policy, and the Magyars wished to 
avoid a return to the arena of German affairs. Though hopeless, 
negotiations continued by fits and starts into 1869. French at- 
tempts to encourage the Austrians by bringing Italy into an al- 
liance also failed, because the Italians would treat only on the 
basis of a French guarantee to evacuate Rome. 
TheJaJteeLjjfjrance to gainjier 1814 fronriei^and/to^egukte 

the Rhfa^JI^^" 1 l-n Jner saridwrion wag ktT taken 3S proof 

was inevitable. In 1870, however, the coun- 

try as a whole anticipated no trouble, and Daru, when Foreign 
Minister, had proposed a reduction of 10,000 men in the con- 
tingent called up from the class of 1870. The measure passed the 
Corps 16gislatif with a sizable majority, though the reduction 
was criticized by the Republicans as insufficient. On June 3Oth 
Ollivier announced to the Chamber that peace seemed assured. 
His confidence derived in part from one of the conditions he had 
set as a basis for assuming office: that the Prussian gains of 1866 
be regarded as legitimate and a fait accompli. 

The Emperor, as nominal chief of the military establishment, 
was far from happy with the Army system both for military and 
for political reasons. The Army was basically professional, and its 
organization was founded upon principles derived in the period 
of reaction against the Revolutionary era. The Charter of 1814 
abolished conscription as a wicked Republican principle, but 
when recruitment produced a royal Army something larger than 
a police force, the government had had to compromise. In 1818 
a new military law revived the draft, but to maintain the purity 
of royalist institutions the kw described conscripts as "auxiliaries" 
and recommended renewed efforts to recruit volunteers. 

The size of the Army was fixed at 240,000, and the annual draft 

288 Enule OUivier 

was never to exceed 40,000 men. The annual class eligible for 
conscription numbered roughly 300,000, meaning that 260,000 
men could not be called up, even in time of war. Members of the 
Universit6 were automatically exempt, as were those who had 
physical disabilities or family obligations; but if their names were 
drawn they were counted as part of the annual quota and could 
not be replaced. Thus, the Army never received the full 40,000 
men and, in general, trained only a fraction of what was received. 
The remainder were put on reserve with the obligation to keep 
their mayors informed of changes in residence. This system re- 
mained in principle, though the size of the Army and of the an- 
nual contingents was occasionally modified. 

This professionalism was enhanced by the "blood tax." Upper- 
and middle-ciaSs-eenscripts could purchase substiStrtesr^nd gener- 
ally avoided service; and because many urban workingmen could 
not pass the physical examinations for Army service a large part 
of the conscripts came from the peasantry. The Army offered 
them a career and favored long-term service in the hope of ac- 
customing the conscripts to military life. Reenlistments were 
then more likely and the annual conscription lists could be re- 
duced, bundle aj'aum Jid uui uuLe Fr^TFnaSon of drained 
resoi' VISES. 

The Prussian system, in contrast, was based on the innovations 
of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic era, and as an heir 
to those traditions Napoleon HI grew up to admire the Prussian 
system on the grounds that a smaU professional army, augmented 
by trained reserves, represented equality and democracy. In 
1843 he wrote of the Prussian system: "It is based on justice, 
equality, and economy, and has for its object, not conquest, but 
independence." Becoming Emperor, he was not able to impress 
the French Army with his views until after Sadowa, and at that 
late date the nation had become so confident in the invincibility 
of its professional Army that reforms, which were both expensive 
and inconvenient, seemed like madness. In consequence, it proved 
impolitic to push the necessary reforms, and by 1870 only minor 
improvements had been realized. 

On the other hand, historians have been inclined to forget that 


the constitutional reforms of 1870 produced a wave of optimism 
in France. Only a fr*y g"gpfd i-i-U fm ^tw* of th* JPrUffffan 
pp r1 '1 | ? ri/l i-fift prny^rnmfint had raVen office nn January 2nd With 
a fejeruUyL statement on German nationdfem. France was on the 
verge ofa new and happier era, ancfthe Emperor, addressing the 
Corps 16gislatif relative to the results of the plebiscite, concluded, 
"More than ever before, we may envision the future without 


This sanguine atmosphere was rent on July 2nd with the 
news of General Prim's offer of the Spanish throne to Leopold 
von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, brother of Carol I of Romania. 
While he had no proof, the French Foreign Minister, Gramont, 
did not doubt for a moment that Bismarck had inspired the 
Spaniards in their choice an assumption which later proved to 
be correct. On the other hand, the evidence available at the mo- 
ment implied that the Spaniards were free agents in their en- 
thusiasm for the Romanian prince, and granting that the avoid- 
ance of a Hohenzollern prince in Spain was a genuine French 
interest, one would have supposed the circumstances dictated 
that Gramont approach Madrid on the matter. Furthermore, as a 
member of a cabinet pledged to peaceful relations with Prussia, 
he should have avoided any action contrary to cabinet policy. 

His zeal to turn on Berlin instead of Madrid suggests that he 
had been waiting for an opportunity to square off against Bismarck, 
and in doing so he focused pubUc attention upon Prussia and 
awoke memories of the diplomatichuu^^ 

y. IriTnoteworthy that he did not 

bother to ask for cabinet consideration of the crisis, but, after 
consulting with the Emperor alone, sent a telegram to Berlin on 
July 3rd demanding an explanation. Bismarck's response, of 
course, was an expression of complete ignorance about Madrid's 

The cabinet deliberated for three hours with the Emperor at 
Saint-Cloud on the morning of July 6th to frame the official 
attitude toward the Hohenzollern candidacy. A ministerial deck- 
ration was prepared, which Gramont read to the Corps 16gislatif 
that afternoon. It opened with a profession of friendship for Spain 

290 Emile Ollivier 

and respect for her sovereignty, and noted that, dating from 
1868 when the Spanish throne had been vacated, France had kept 
a strict neutrality in the selection of a new monarch: 

[But respect for the rights of a neighboring people] does not oblige 
us to stand aside while a foreign power, by placing one of its princes 
on the throne of Charles V, threatens to upset the present balance 
of power in Europe to our detriment and to imperil the interests and 
the honor of France. 

This eventuality, we ardently hope, will not come to pass. To pre- 
vent it, we count on both the wisdom of the German people and on 
the friendship of the Spanish people. 

If it be otherwise, fortified by your support, Gentlemen, and by 
that of the nation, we shall know how to fulfill our duty without hesi- 
tation and without weakness. 

The cabinet, in other words, upheld Gramont's earlier implication 
of Prussia in the Hohenzollern candidacy, and Ollivier later 
defended this demarche on the grounds that Prussia, whether 
conspiring to bring a Hohenzollern cousin to the Spanish throne 
or not, was involved by the nature of the circumstances; sec- 
ondly, that international sympathy for the French cause might be 
mustered by showing how deliberately Bismarck was provoking 

These explanations, however honest, cannot avoid the fact that 
Gramont's hasty action on July 3rd committed the cabinet to 
dealing with both Prussia and Spain; and, considering the failure 
of France after 1867 to win friends among the influential powers, 
any expectation of allies in 1870 was unrealistic. Approaching 
Spain alone was the only safe course. Furthermore, the final para- 
graph of the cabinet's declaration of policy carried a hint of 
war for which the entire cabinet was responsible; but Gramont 
probably emphasized this portion of the declaration, by the 
power of his delivery, beyond the intentions of the majority of 
the ministers, and OUivier left the Chamber alarmed by the war- 
like demonstrations with which the Deputies received the speech. 
Who would have known, as a result, that the French government 
was actually pledged to peace and to friendship with Prussia? 

Meanwhile, as Bismarck had been playing the innocent in 


Berlin, Gramont ordered Benedetti, the French Ambassador, to 
join the Prussian King at Ems. He was instructed to ask the king 
to issue a statement disapproving Leopold's acceptance of the 
Spanish throne and suggesting the withdrawal of that acceptance* 
King William refused to issue the statement, but he did advise 
Leopold's father, Prince Anthony, of the advisability of with-, 
drawing, and on July izth Anthony renounced die Spanish J 
throne in his son's name. 
The affair seemed at an end, and 

badly. He had calculated from the start that unification of Ger- 
many required the prior defeat of France, for he was not content 
with a federal union of Germany which Napoleon in favored, 
but wanted Prussia to swallow up the rest of Germany. The pre- 
ponderance of Prussia in the German world after 1866 had 
alarmed the South German states, especially Baden, Bavaria, and 
Wiirttemberg, and in order to keep them out of the French camp 
and loyal to the military alliances he had forced upon them, 
Bismarck understood the necessity of making France appear the 
aggressor. The Hohenzollern candidacy had been tailored to 
enrage the French; but, thanks to 'Tapa Anthony's" renunciation, 
the cause seemed lost. 

Gramont was as disappointed as Bismarck, for nothing had 
been said about Prussia's part in the withdrawal; and, since Gra- 
mont's initial attack had been made to force Prussia's hand, he 
felt it desirable to negotiate further to extract a satisfactory re- 
sponse from Berlin. Thus, his first mistake led to his second. 
Egged on by the conservative Bonapartists, including the Em- 
press, Gramont sent off a second telegram to Benedetti demand- 
ing that he ask for King William's pledge that the Hohenzollern 
Candidacy for the Spanish throne would never again be authorized 
from Berlin. Ollivier was not informed of this message until the 
following morning July i3th when he immediately considered 
resigning from the cabinet. 

His annoyance was justified: the cabinet had been ignored by 
Gramont. Furthermore, the Emperor had permitted Gramont's 
action despite his promise to consult the cabinet, seemingly 
giving way in the face of the conservatives at court and impressed 

292 Emile Ollivier 

by the warlike spirit of the crowds in the streets. Doubtless, the 
Bonapartists hoped that, by forcing the Emperor to take a strong 
line, authoritarian government could be restored. A military 
victory and they had no doubt that the Prussians could be easily 
swept aside would serve to consolidate the dictatorship. Under- 
standing what was at stake, Ollivier decided to remain in the 
cabinet to save the Liberal Empire. In addition, he knew that 
his resignation would be interpreted abroad as his branding 
France the aggressor, and he wished to avoid that possibility; 
finally, he was personally attached to Napoleon, and shrank from 
deserting him in a time of trouble. 

Instead, Ollivier asked the cabinet to declare that the incident 
of the Hohenzollern candidacy was closed (still the thirteenth) 
no matter what William's answer should be. The cabinet upheld 
Ollivier's proposal eight to four and vetoed the War Minister's 
proposal to begin mobilization. Thus, Ollivier triumphed over 
Gramont in the cabinet, but elsewhere at court, in the streets, 
and in Parliament Gramont's demand that France receive a 
satisfactory guarantee from Prussia won increasing support. 
Foreign observers in Paris were of the opinion that the majority 
in the cabinet, including the Emperor, was being dragged toward 
war against its will. 

The cabinet lunched with the Empress Eug6nie on the thir- 
teenth, and she was hardly polite. Marshal Le Boeuf , who backed 
her against the majority of the cabinet, insulted Ollivier at lunch 
by calling him the "Emperor's betrayer"; but, despite all, Ollivier 
was convinced by the day's end that the Emperor and the major- 
ity in the cabinet would stand firm for peace. 

Meanwhile, Benedetti had received Gramont's second instruc- 
tions and once again sought out the King at Ems. William refused 
to commit himself about a future Hohenzollern candidacy, but 
he did admit his previous consent to Leopold's candidacy and 
authorized Benedetti to report that he had also approved the 
withdrawal of Leopold's candidacy. The King ended the inter- 
view by reiterating his refusal to make any guarantees about any 
future Hohenzollern candidacies, but the information he had 
given Benedetti clearly indicated that Prussia had backed down 


on Leopold's candidacy and ought to have satisfied even Gra- 

In reporting the interview to Bismarck, the King telegraphed 
the nature of Benedetti's request, indicating that the interviews 
had terminated with the King's refusal to make any guarantees 
about the future. He neglected to mention the concession he had 
made to Benedetti, perhaps because he may have made it later in 
the day after the telegram had been transmitted, and he left the 
publication of the report to Bismarck's discretion. Bismarck saw 
at once that by condensing the King's telegram especially as 
there was no mention of the concession to Benedetti he could 
publish an account of the interviews which would make it seem 
as if the French Ambassador had made an impudent demand, 
which the King had impudently refused: "a red rag for the Gallic 

The edited dispatch was published in the Gazette of North 
Germany on July i4th, the news of it reaching Paris the same 
day. Ollivier realized that the Prussians were bent on provoking 
war, and he discussed with the Emperorthe pg^rbility. jp.caflipg. 
for a E^opeafr-xTHigre^^ ta^pres^QLJs^ 

outbreak. Bismarck^sjred rag, however, had done its work: the 
couSFfTthe^ people, and both Chambers were aroused, and-Iskpo- 

l^Tijiid mii'xrW WM ft jgro^rtjjftn^^nst their will. Ollivier 

was forced to ask Parliament for military credits, which were 
granted enthusiastically. Just as enthusiastically, the Deputies 
shouted down those few who thought it advisable to examine all 
documents relative to the crisis, an examination which would have 
revealed that Benedetti had secured the Prussian King's consent 
to have the Hohenzollern candidacy canceled. Probably no other 
parliainefttary t>ody, ^ve^j^e^cyrcumstances, W4>uld hax&Jfe 
haved more rationally^ 

Napoleon IH^Was-a piteous object during the last days of the 
crisis: a sick man caught between the conservative Bonapartists 
at court and the liberal Bonapartists in the cabinet. Only he knew 
the weaknesses of the Army and had taken seriously die reports 
on the exceUence of the Prussian Army sent by Stoffel, military 
attach6 in Berlin; he knew that neither Austria nor Italy had 

294 Emile OUivier 

made any commitment to come to the aid of France. Did he fail 
to discuss these points with the cabinet on the f ourteenth because 
he felt the war to be inevitable? Or because he saw no way to 
back out of the Prussian trap without a fatal loss of prestige for 
his dynasty? Or because in the face of Marshal Le Boeufs 
reassurances about the readiness of the Army he felt it hopeless 
to convince anyone that the Army was not ready? Or because he 
was ill and had been recently told of the necessity to have an 
operation? Stymied and confused, he had greeted.Jtke-suggestion 
of a Era^^_Qngrresj^^ 
woglfl have none of it. 

Thus did Gramont, supported by the Empress and Le Boeuf, 
lead the government into Bismarck's trap, and Ollivier the 
peace-loving Ollivier had to ask a roaring Lower House to 
support the proposal for war. In the process he dropped a most 
unfortunate remark; as Prussia's action left no alternative to 
war, Ollivier said that he accepted the war "with a light heart." 
He meant, of course, with a clear conscience, but in the later 
light of death, defeat, and a harsh peace, his gaucherie was seized 
upon by the Republicans as evidence of the Empire's callousness. 

Bad news from the front was not long forthcoming. Napoleon 
HI, who had gone off with the troops, telegraphed to Paris of the 
defeats suffered during the first week of August, indicating that 
it would be wise to prepare the capital for possible siege. It was 
shocking news after only a week's campaign. The cabinet decided 
to convoke the Chamber on the eleventh; then advanced the date 
to the ninth; it also forced the dismissal of Marshal Le Boeuf, 
the conservative Minister of War, but the extreme Left and Right 
preferred to use the defeats to rid themselves of Ollivier and the 
Liberal Empire. 

The Empress worked during the night of August 8-9 to select 
a new skte of ministers, so confident was she that the cabinet 
would be turned out on a vote of no-confidence. Ollivier, mean- 
while, got wind of a Leftist uprising in the bud and proposed 
that the cabinet ask His Majesty to return to Paris to rally loyal 
opinion around his person, but the Empress countered that he 
must not return without a victory. Ollivier then frankly told her 


that the monarch was an obstacle at the front, because he could 
not command in his physical condition and no one else could 
command because of his presence. In the face of cabinet unanim- 
ity, Eug6nie gave in to the necessity of recalling the Emperor on 
the morning of the ninth, but when Ollivier left her presence 
for the Chamber she reversed her decision upon discovering sup- 
port in the Privy Council. Persigny, Rouher, and Baroche all 
conservatives prevailed over the cabinet, and the Emperor was 
not advised to return. 

In the meantime Ollivier had invited General de Montauban, 
the Comte de Palikao, to become Minister of War replacing Le 
Boeuf, and Palikao agreed to serve if promoted to be Marshal of 
France. Thus he was in Paris on the morning that Ollivier asked 
the Chamber for a vote of confidence. The vote was never in 
doubt: the Right, which had opposed military reforms, combined 
with the Left, which had urged military reductions, and swept 
up a Chamber stunned by news of disaster. The ministers present 
voted for themselves, accounting for the only votes the cabinet 
received. The Empress then notified Ollivier to inform the Cham- 
ber that she was inviting Palikao to form a cabinet. 

Out of office, Ollivier suffered increasing abuse as the military 
disasters compounded. Had he not left Paris before the siege be- 
gan, he most likely would have been assassinated. Henri Roche- 
fort openly advocated his murder, saying, "The jury will acquit 
the assassins." Those who refrained from accusing Ollivier of 
treason castigated him for incapacity; he was widely caricatured 
as a turkey, a symbol for stupidity. Bgth conservative Bonapart- 
ists MLdJBLepubUgans made him a.^pfg^t-.^ ff .th^ffm t and thus 
helggdjp identify the Liberal Empire with T* 1 ******'+ A 
few saw more dispassionately, Maxime Du Camp, for example, 
who wrote the following lines to Flaubert on September 19, 

The nation weeps and laments, is in despair, proclaims its innocence, 
and casts the blame upon the Empire. The nation is in the wrong; she 
has her fate in her own hands, and this is what she has made of it. 
. . . The moral reforms which might have saved her have been ut- 
terly neglected. . . . Morality molds character, and character is the 

296 Emile Ollivier 

basis of national life. You may rest assured that nothing of that kind 
will be done. The French nation will be informed that she is the first 
nation of the world, that she has been betrayed and handed over to 
the enemy in a word, that she is exempt from all blame. 

Napoleon III had been shocked at the suddenness of Ollivier's 
fall and had written him a comforting letter in exile; the Em- 
peror never permitted Ollivier to be criticized in his presence 
but the imperial words had lost their meaning in Paris. Ollivier, 
having gone to Turin on August i2th on a fruitless mission to 
secure Italian help for France, was warned by Prince Jerome- 
Napoleon not to return to Paris. The Republicans overthrew the 
Empire on September 4th, and Ollivier learned that his house in 
Passy had been sacked and that an order for his arrest had been 
issued in the Department of Var. 

During his three years of exile, Ollivier's chief support came 
from the Egyptian government. In 1865 Ismail Pasha had em- 
ployed him to represent Egypt in cases pertaining to the Suez 
Canal Company for an annual salary of 30,000 francs. The money 
continued to come to Ollivier in exile, but he lived in constant 
dread of unemployment. Confident that the day of his justifica- 
tion would come, he prepared to write the history of the Liberal 
Empire; and, hoping to hasten his justification, he sought the 
exiled Emperor's blessing as a Bonapartist candidate for the 
National Assembly from Corsica. Napoleon, however, had al- 
ready lent his support to Conti, who had been the Emperor's 
chef de cabinet after Mocquard. 

After Conti's death in 1872, both Rouher and Ollivier aspired 
to his seat. Napoleon asked Ollivier to stand aside: Rouher was 
the elder and had not accrued the odium of the defeat. As 
Ollivier wrote, 'Tailure is never pardoned: you can be stupid 
and dishonest with impunity, providing you succeed. If you fail, 
your good intentions will not amnesty you." Another blow to 
Ollivier was die death of Nagoleon IIIonTanuarv p 1873. which 
left^AeJEmpress Eug6nie TAe^gtuiar "Head of the Bonaparrists. 

Lj^^Q^^^ _ bsJnvitsd into 


Late in 1873, he decided to risk ending his exile and went to 
La Moutte, his estate in Var. Some unfinished business was pend- 
ing: his reception by the Acad6mie frangaise. Having been 
elected in 1870, he had been forced by political events to request 
that his reception be postponed, a postponement which the 
Academic readily granted, as many academicians shared the 
national hostility to Ollivier. But now he finished his reception 
address and sent it to Emile Augier, who had been named to re- 
ceive him, and the reception was scheduled for March 5, 1874. 

In the meantime the Academic appointed a special commission 
to review Ollivier's speech before it could be given publicly. 
The commission, which included men like Guizot and Favre who 
had been knights in the battle for liberty during the Second Em- 
pire, denied Ollivier the right to make any friendly reference to 
Napoleon III. They succeeded, in fact, in arranging an indefinite 
postponement of Ollivier's reception; he took his seat, however, 
without the reception ceremony, but remained an unwelcome 
outsider. Not until 1892 did he make a formal speech in the 
Acad6mie, and only after the turn of the century did he partici- 
pate in discussions. Through all the hostility and isolation, he 
never wavered in his faith that the Liberal Empire would have 
survived except for the war. 

During these years Ollivier twice presented himself for public 
office. In 1876 he stood for Parliament in Var and was whipped 
three to one. Ten years later, he ran for the Departmental Council 
of Var, again unsuccessfully. His opponent introduced a false 
letter into the campaign, allegedly written by Bismarck to 

If I had had the misfortune to bring upon my country all the woes 
which you have brought upon yours, I would spend the rest of my 
life on my knees asking God's pardon for what I had done. 

3The legend~-^f Ollivici' ? s guiir^pukjitid &u mi'uug in France 
thatjiuch a letter was absolutely believable, and even after 1892, 
when Bismarck began to revdil hiS'OWn role, the legend did not 
fade. Its persistence can be accounted for, in part, by recalling 
that fatal phrase "light heart"; misunderstood at the time and for- 

298 Emile ilivier 

ever after rendered out of context, accepting the war with a 
"light heart" suggested that Ollivier had gleefully led the nation 
to ruin. For forty-three years he lived to bear the onus of his 
countrymen's hatred. 

He spent many years preparing a gigantic apologia. Its actual 
writing encompassed the last twenty years of his life, and as his 
sight began to fail he ended by dictating to his wife and daugh- 
ters. His case ran to seventeen volumes under the heading L?Em- 
pire liberal, tudes, recits, souvenirs. The loyalty of his wife sus- 
tained him through this work, and on his deathbed, in 1913, he 
took her hand, saying, "I thank you for all that you have been in 
my life." 

Henri Bergson, who was elected to fill Ollivier's chair at the 
Acad&nie in 1914, had four years to study Ollivier's career before 
making his reception speech. He became convinced that an in- 
justice had been done to Ollivier and designed his reception 
speech to rectify the wrong. Consequently, Bergson's reception 
by the Academic after the war proved sensational. Others had 
seen the truth relative to the outbreak of the War of 1870, but 
no one had made an effective presentation in favor of Ollivier. 

The French, however, have never found it in their hearts to 
pardon Napoleon III and his Second Empire. To use Ollivier's 
phrase, "Failure is never pardoned." The gentlemen of the Third 
Republic had more unpleasant words for Napoleon III than for 
either Charles X or Louis-Philippe, both of whom preferred 
"traveling" to reforming, neither of whom lost wars or provinces. 
An obvious conclusion is that failure in war is a greater sin than 
political intransigence; but, recalling the despair of the Republi- 
cans after the plebiscite in 1870, is it not possible that the reforms 
of 1869-1870 were sufficiently promising for the reconciliation 
of liberty and order that the Republicans after 1870 never dared 
admit it? 


A familiar remark, perhaps apocryphal, is attributed to Napo- 
leon III: "How could you expect the Empire to function 
smoothly? The Empress is a Legitimist; my half-brother, Morny, 
is an Orl6anist; my cousin, Jerome, is a Republican, and I am said 
to be a Socialist. Among us, only Persigny is a Bonapartist, and he 
is crazy." For those of us in whose minds and hearts this kindly, 
humorous Emperor has lived, the quip rings true. 


302 Bibliographies 

The Due de Persigny 


The biographical materials on Persigny are eulogistic and unreli- 
able: H. Castillo, Le Comte de Persigny, Paris, 1857, and J- Delaroa, 
Le Due de Persigny, Paris, 1865, come under this heading, Persigny's 
secretary, Count d'Espagny, published the Memoirs du Due de 
Persigny, Paris, 1896, and included an introduction which faithfully 
reflects the thesis in the memoirs: that Persigny had an infallibility 
in matters imperial. Though this volume does exaggerate Persigny's 
importance, the exaggerations are a key to the man's character. 

As for the renascence of Bonapartism, note my article "Louis- 
Napoleon: A Tragedy of Good Intentions," History Today, IV, 
219-226 (April, 1954), which includes a summary of the Works of 
Napoleon HI. F. A. Simpson, The Rise of Louis Napoleon, London, 
1909, is excellent for the period 1808-1848, and the standard official 
biography, Blanchard Jerrold, Life of Napoleon HI, 4 vols., Paris, 
1874-82, is valuable for the same period but increasingly unreliable 
after 1848. Persigny's adherence to Bonapartism is related in all the 
above-mentioned works as well as in Andr6 Bellessort, La Societe 
franfoise sous Napoleon III, Paris, 1932. From this period, too, one 
ought to mention Persigny's own work, De la destination et de Futilitt 
permanente des pyr amides, Paris, 1845. 

Pierre de la Gorce, Histoire du Second Empire, 7 vols., Paris, 1894- 
1905, is a superb work and without peer as a survey of the period. 
Volume I contains a discussion of Persigny's role in the Orleans con- 
fiscation, while Volume IV takes up the Roman Question and the 
elections of 1863. Additional material on the religious problems fac- 
ing Persigny as Minister of the Interior will be found in Jean Maurain, 
La Politique ecclesiastique du Second Empire de 1852 a 1869, Paris, 
1930. Also note J. J. F. Poujoulat, Lettre a M. de Persigny a ^occasion 
de sa circulaire contre la Societe de St. Vincent de Paul, Paris, 1861. 

In the realm of foreign affairs, it is well to cite first A. Debidour, 
Histoire diplomatique de PEurope, 1814-1878, 2 vols., Paris, 1891, 
which is a fine work; then two articles by A. Pingaud, "La Politique 


ext&rieure du Second Empire," Revue historique, CLVI, 41-68 (1927); 
and "Un Project d'alliance franco-russe en 1858," Stances et travaux 
de VAcad&mie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (Compte rendu, 
1928), LXXXVIII, 145-164. 1 have used several other articles which 
suggest that Franco-Russian relations weighed heavily on Napoleon's 
Italian policy: Ernest d'Hauterive, "Mission du Prince Napol6on a 
Varsovie (1858),'' Revue de deux mondes, yth Period, LXV, 823-854 
(June 15, 1928); G. Pag&s, "Les Relations de k France et de la 
Russie en 1860," Revue historique du Sud-Est europeen, V, 277-287 
(October-December, 1928); and Pierre Rain, "Les Relations franco- 
russes sous le Second Empire," Revue des etudes historiques, LXXK, 
629-658 (1913)- 

Lord Cowley was Persigny's counterpart in Paris; see the first 
Earl Cowley, Secrets of the Second Empire (F. A. WeUesley, editor), 
New York and London, 1929. Several English memoirs pertain: third 
Earl of Malmesbury, Memoirs of an Ex-Minister, 2 vols., London, 
1884; and Sir Herbert E. Maxwell, Life of the Fourth Earl of Clarendon, 
2 vols., London, 1913. 

A recent book is worthy of note: Lynn M. Case, French Opinion 
on War and Diplomacy During the Second Empire, University of 
Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1953. This study contains masses of 
valuable information and presents the thesis that public opinion ex- 
ercised control over decisions of diplomacy and war. Finally, two 
important books which suggest the background of the Treaty of 1860: 
Arthur Louis Dunham, The Anglo-French Treaty of Commerce of 
1860 and the Progress of the Indzistrial Revolution in France, Uni- 
versity of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1930; and H. N. Boon, Reve 
et rtalitS dans Fceuvre economique et sociale de NapolSon I/I, The 
Hague, 1936. 

In Horace de Viel-Castel, M&moire sur la rdgne de NapolSon III, 
1851-64, 6 vols., Paris, 1883-84, there are many caustic observations 
on Persigny. If Viel-Castd must always be taken with reservation, it 
is also clear that Persigny was a tempting target for those who had 
an eye for the ridiculous. Marcel Boulenger, Le Due de Morny, 
Prince franfais, Paris, 1925, relates the Morny-Persigny antagonism, 
while Frdric Loli6e, The Gilded Beauties of the Second Empire, 
New York and London, 1910, includes the flighty Mme. de Persigny. 

304 Bibliographies 

The Due de Morny 


The best biography of Morny is Marcel Boulenger, Le Due de 
Morny, Prince frangais, Paris, 1925. An earlier work usually regarded 
as standard is Fr6d6ric Loli6e, Le Due de Morny: The Brother of 
an Emperor and the Maker of an Empire, London, 1910. Lolie*e has 
the advantage of translation, but his work contains many inaccuracies. 
A recent biography which is popularized but not bad is Robert 
Christophe, Le Due de Morny, "Emperor" des Francois sous NapoUon 
111, Paris, 1951. Christophe either omits the larger issues or deals 
superficially with them. A bad example of popularization is Maristan 
Chapman (pseu.), Imperial Brother, New York, Viking Press, 1931; 
it is unreliable. 

Moray's biographers have drawn on certain memoirs, which should 
be acknowledged here. The last volume of L. D. Vron, Nouveaux 
mSmoires (fun bourgeois de Paris, 6 vols., Paris, 1853-55, contains 
some pro-Moray information on the coup d'etat. Cartier de Vil- 
lemessant, M&moires d*un journaliste, 6 vols., Paris, 1872-78, is another 
pro-Morny source. Villemessant was editor of Figaro and a friend 
of Morny. Another friend of Morny was the Comte d'Alton-She'e, 
whose MSmoires, Paris, 1868, are useful. I have also used Edmond 
and Jules de Goncourt, Journal, M&moires de la vie litteraire, 9 vols. 
(Edition definitive), Paris, 1935. Andre" de Maricourt, Mme. de Souza 
et sa famille, Paris, 1907, is also good. 

In the first volume of Maxime Du Camp, Souvenirs d*un derm- 
siecle, 2 vols., Paris, 1949, there is material on Morny and the coup 
d?6tat. Also note an article by a descendant, Le Due de Morny, *TLa 
Genfee d'un coup d'&at," Revue des deux mondes, 7th period, XXX, 
512-534 (1925). There is a recent book on this subject, Pierre Domi- 
nique, Louis-Napoleon et le coup cFStat du deux decembre, Paris, 1951. 

For Moray's embassy to Russia, see Un ambassade en Russie, 1856, 
ed. by Paul Ollendorff, Paris, 1892. There is an excellent article by 
Victor Boutenko, "Un projet d'alliance franco-russe en 1856," Revue 
historique, CLVI, 277-325, while the history of Franco-Russian re- 


lations in this period is covered in Frangois Charles-Roux, Alexandre 
II, Gortshakoff, et NapolSon HI, Paris, 1913. For Morny's difficulty 
with Rouher, see Robert Schnerb, Rouher et le Second Empire, Paris, 

Albert Gu6rard, Napoleon III, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Uni- 
versity Press, 1943, contains a good survey of the Mexican affair, while 
the Jecker letter of 1869 can be found in Papiers secrets et corre- 
spondance du Second Empire, ed. by Poulet-Malassis, Paris, 1873. 
The Mexican situation is admirably presented by Ralph Roeder, 
Judrez and His Mexico, ^ vok, New York, Viking Press, 1947. 

Perhaps the most interesting book about Morny is Alphonse Daudet, 
Le Nabab. There is an English translation, The Nabob, by W. Blaydes, 
New York, 1902. Daudet was appointed attach^ de cabinet by Morny 
in 1861 and served until 1865. 



The standard biography of Montalembert is R. P. Lecanuet, 
Montalembert d*aprs son journal et sa correspondance, 3 vols., Paris, 
1895. Emmanuel Mounier has edited an anthology of extracts drawn 
from Montalembert's writing entitled Montalembert, Paris, 1945, 
which can serve as a guide to his voluminous political and religious 

For a good general survey of French religious history covering 
this period, see Adrien Dansette, Histoire religieuse de la France 
contemporame de la Revolution t la Troisitme RSpublique, Paris, 
1948. (A second volume brings this study up to date.) More intensive 
and valuable is Jean Maurain, La Politique ecclSsiastique du Second 
Empire de 1852 & 1869, Paris, 1930, which contains an excellent 
bibliography. Also note an earlier work by A. Debidour, which is 
anticlerical but good: Histoire des rapports de PEglise et de rEtat 
en France de 1789 A 1870, Paris, 1898. Another excellent survey is 
E. E. Y. Hales, Pio Nono: A Study of European Politics and Religion 
m the Nineteenth Century, Eyre and Spottiswoode, Ltd., London, 

306 Bibliographies 

The best critical survey of Liberal Catholicism is Georges Weill, 
Histoire du Catholicisme liberal en France (1828-1908), Paris, 1909. 
Leroy Beaulieu, Les Catholiques liberaux: L'Eglise et le liberalisme 
de 1830 A nos jours, Paris, 1885, is a proliberal work, while Justin 
F&vre, Histoire critique du Caiholicisme liberal en "France jusqu'au 
Pontificat de Leon XIII, Paris, 1897, is antiliberal. Volume n of La 
Gorce, Histoire du Second Empire, j vols., Paris, 1894-1905, contains 
good material on the religious factionalism and die opposition of the 
Acad6mie to the regime. 

Jacques Offenbach 


Biographies of Offenbach range from thinly veiled political polemics 
to straightforward eulogies. One of the most recent books is Jacques 
Brindejont-Offenbach, Offenbach, mon grand-pre, Paris, 1940, which 
protests against discussing the public life of France in order to inter- 
pret the private life of Offenbach. Presumably the author had in 
mind a work by Siegfried Kracauer, Jacques Offenbach ou le secret 
du Second Empire, Paris, 1937. An English edition of the latter book 
was published in London in the same year. Two other biographies 
have been regarded as standard: Andre Martinet, Offenbach, sa vie 
et son ceuvre, Paris, 1887; *&& Louis Schneider, Offenbach, Paris, 1923. 

Shorter sketches of Offenbach are found in Volume in of Comte 
Maurice Fleury et Louis Sonolet, La Societe du Second Empire, 4 
vols., Paris, 1911; and in Louis Sonolet, La Vie parisienne sous le 
Second Empire, Paris, 1929. These works also suggest something of 
Offenbach's milieu, as does Maxime Du Camp, Paris: Ses organes, 
ses fonctions, et sa vie, 6 vols., Paris, 1875. Another writer who worked 
on the society of the Second Empire was Frederic Loli6e; see in par- 
ticular The Gilded Beauties of the Second Empire, New York and 
London, 1910. 

I found three works helpful for the artistic background of this 
period: Jacques Barzun, Berlioz and the Romantic Century, 2 vols., 
Boston, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1950; Maxime Du Camp, Literary 


Recollections, 2 vols., London and Sydney, 1893; and Ivor Guest, The 
Ballet of the Second Empire, 1858-1870, London, A. & C. Black, 1953. 



The latest biography of Sainte-Beuve is Andre Bellessort's excellent 
Sainte-Beuve et le X/X e Slide, Paris, 1954. Andre Billy, Sainte-Beuve, 
2 vols., Paris, 1952, is also excellent and recent. Matthew Arnold's 
article on Sainte-Beuve in the Encyclopaedia Britannica is the work 
of an admirer; for a contrary view, see the late edition of Marcel 
Proust, Contre Sainte-Beuve, Paris, 1954. Robert G. Mahieu, Sainte- 
Beuve aux Etats-Unis, Princeton, 1945, is a study of Sainte-Beuve's 
influence upon American literature. Interesting biographic material 
can be found in Le Livre d'Or de Sainte-Beuve, public d ^occasion du 
centendre de sa naissance, 1804-1904, Paris, 1904. 

A psychologist who was interested in Sainte-Beuve's method was 
C. K. Trueblood, "Sainte-Beuve and the Psychology of Personality," 
Character and Personality, VIE, 120-43 (1939). Sholom J. Kahn, 
Science and Aesthetic Judgment, New York, Columbia University 
Press, 1953, is not specifically a study of the Second Empire, but the 
questions studied are relevant. Marie-Louise Pailleron's survey, Les 
Ecrivains du Second Empire, 2nd ed., Paris, 1924, is valuable, as is 
Philip Spencer, "Censorship of Literature under the Second Empire," 
Cambridge Journal, DDE, 47-55 (1949). Michel Mohrt, Les Intellectuals 
devant la dejaite, 18*10, Paris, 1942, is interesting, but obviously written 
with 1940 in mind. 

Le Journal d'Edmond et Jules de Goncourt, 7 vols., Paris, 1887- 
1895, is a well known source^ for the literary life of the Second 
Empire, and Ximenes Doudan, Lettres, 4 vols., 2nd. ed., Paris, 1879, 
is also important. Doudan was secretary to the Due de Broglie. Francis 
Steegmuller's recent The Selected Letters of Gustave Flaubert, Lon- 
don, Hamish Hamilton, Ltd., 1954, and Philip Spencer, Flaubert: 
A Biography, London, Faber & Faber, Ltd., 1952, shed much light on 
the period. 

308 Bibliographies 

Both Martin Turnell, Baudelaire, A Study of His Poetry, London, 
Hamish Hamilton, Ltd., 1953, and Peter Quennell in his edition of 
Charles Baudelaire, My Heart Laid Bare, New York, Vanguard Press 
Inc., 1951, suggest disapproval of Sainte-Beuve's treatment of Baude- 
laire; but Andre 1 Maurois's Ulia, The Life of George Sand, New 
York, Harper & Brothers, 1953, puts Sainte-Beuve in a more favorable 
light. The two most recent biographies of Sainte-Beuve's benefactress 
are A. Augustin-Thierry, La Prmcesse Mathilde, Paris, 1950, and 
Marguerite Castillon du Perron, La Princesse Mathilde, Paris, 1953 

The Countess 


The work of Frederic Loliee ought to be cited first, because so 
many subsequent books have heavily relied on him. English transla- 
tions are available for most of his works. In order of appearance 
note Les Femmet du Second Empire, Paris, 1906 (English edition! 
New York and London, 1907); The Gilded Beauties of the Second 
Empire, New York and London, 1910 (first published in 1909); The 
Romance of a Favourite, London, 1913. Loliee is so highly regarded 
by many historians that it is essential to note that he makes many 
errors. He is not even consistent in his own work, as anyone who 
compares two of his books will discover. 

Abel Hermant has used a great deal of Loliee in his La Castiglione 
Pans, 1938, but he has done additional research and discovered new 
matemL most of it important and revealing. In contrast, there exists 
a book by Hector Fleischmann, Napoleon III and the Women He 
Lovea,n.d., which should be used with extreme care. It seems highly 
unreliable based primarily on gossip. Another unreliable worked 

Memoiresur la 


regne deNapoUon 111, 1851-64, 6 vols., Paris, 1883-84. Viel-Castel 
was a fru^d of Mathilde and an assistant to Nieuwerkerke in the 
F^ H * matCrkl * fascinating, but must be used with care. An 
English abridgment and translation appeared in two volumes in Lon- 
don 1 


On June xz, 1951, the remaining papers of the Countess of Casti- 
glione were put up for sale at the Hotel Drouot. An extensive catalogue 
of the pieces, including many direct quotations from the letters, was 
made by Etienne Ader, Correspondences medites et archives privSes de 
Virginia Castiglione, Paris, 1951; with an introduction by Andr 
Maurois, this catalogue constitutes a major source. 

Henry dldeville devoted Chapter X of his Journal d?un diplomate 
en Italic, Turin, 1859-62, 2nd ed., Paris, 1892, to the Countess. Here 
he gives the account of his visits to her, which are invariably quoted 
by other sources. Robert de Montesquiou, La Divine Comtesse, Paris, 
1913, is primarily drawn from information furnished by Lon Qery, 
who was one of the Countess's three lawyers. 

One work, though it is not specifically devoted to the Countess, 
merits notice, because it states that a son was born to Napoleon m 
and the Countess: Robert Sencourt, Life of the Empress Eugenie, 
London, 1931. The supposed offspring was Dr. Hugenschmidt, who 
was in attendance at the Countess's death. Sencourt says that Hugen- 
schmidt was raised by Thomas W. Evans, the American dentist em- 
ployed at court. In a subsequent book, Sencourt, whose real name 
is Robert Esmonde Gordon George, makes no mention of Hugen- 
schmidt at all (Napoleon III, the Modern Emperor, New York, 
D. Appleton-Century, Co., 1933). 

It is fitting to append several general works on the society of the 
Second Empire. Count Maurice Fleury and Louis Sonolet, La Societ& 
du Second Empire, 4 vols., Paris, 1911, has noteworthy illustrations, 
and Andr6 Bellessort, La SociSte franpaise sous NapolSon III, Paris, 
1932, is an excellent survey. 

Louis Pasteur 


The standard biography of Pasteur was written by his son-in-law, 
Ren6 Vallery-Radot, La Vie de Pasteur, Paris, 1900. English transla- 
tions of this work are available. Vallery-Radot married Marie-Louis 
Pasteur in 1879; ^ was * e on ^y daughter of Pasteur to survive child- 

3io Bibliographies 

hood. A child of this marriage, Pasteur Vallery-Radot, recently pub- 
lished an interesting volume of Pasteur's life: Pasteur: Images de sa 
vie suivies de quelques episodes dramatiques de sa carrier e scientifique, 
Paris, 1947. 

Other biographers of Pasteur draw heavily on Ren6 Vallery-Radot's 
work, but perhaps see the subject more objectively. L. Descour, 
Pasteur and His Work, New York, n.d.; Louis Lumet, Pasteur, Paris, 
1923; Henri Mondor, Pasteur, Paris, 1945; and R. Dubos, Pasteur, 
Free Lance of Science, Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1950, are reputable 
and interesting books. One other biography is particularly useful for 
this period: J. M. D. Olmsted, Claude Bernard, Physiologist, New 
York, Harper & Brothers, 1938. 

One of the chief sources on Pasteur are his own works: Louis 
Pasteur, Oeuvres, 7 vols., Paris, 1922-29. Of special interest, too, is 
his article, "Le Budget de la science," Revue des cours scientifiques 
de la France et de Fttranger, 5th year, No. 9 (Feb. i, 1868). 

Several books which indicate the paucity of scientific facilities in 
the nineteenth century are Maxime Du Camp, Paris, ses organes, ses 
fonctions et sa vie, 6 vols., Paris, 1875 ( see Vol. V in particular); and 
and article by Henry E. Guerlac, "Science and French National 
Strength," which is found in E. M. Earle, Modern France, Princeton, 
Princeton University Press, 1951. Finally, a brilliant book which con- 
tains a discussion of Pasteur's role is E. C. Large, The Advance of 
the Fungi, New York, Henry Holt & Co., 1940. 

Victor Duruy 


Basic to any study of Duruy are his own memoirs, Notes et 
souvenirs, 2 vols., Paris, 1901. The first volume is valuable in par- 
ticular, as it reveals the development of his philosophy of education. 
Also see Charles Dejob, "Le Reveil de Topinion dans I'universit6 
sous le second Empire. La Revue de Finstruction publique et Victor 
Duruy," Enseignement secondaire, March-May, 1914. Volume IV 
of La Gorce, Histoire du Second Empire, 7 vols., Paris, 1894-1905, 


discusses the state of French teaching, as does Volume V of Maxime 
Du Camp, Paris, ses organes, ses f auctions, et sa vie, 6 vols., Paris, 


In his fifth volume, La Gorce, op. cit., discusses the battle between 
the. religious and educational camps; he believed that Duruy repre- 
sented materialism. An excellent source on these issues is Jean Maurain, 
La Politique eccUsiastique du Second Empire de 1852 a 186$, Paris, 
1930, which includes a fine bibliography. We still need a good biog- 
raphy of the leading anticlerical of the period; meanwhile see Flam- 
marion, Un Neveu de Napoleon 1, le Prince Napoleon (1822-91), 
Paris, 1939. George Duveau, La Vie ouvrtire en France sous le Second 
Empire, Paris, 1946, suggests the attitude of the working class toward 
the expanding educational system, while D. W. Brogan, France Under 
the Republic, 1870-1939, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1941, por- 
trays the ultimate triumph of Duruy's educational principles. 

I have also used Napoleon HI, Histoire de Jules Ctsar, 2 vols., 
Paris, 1865, as well as references to this work which appear in Maxime 
Du Camp, Literary Recollections, 2 vols., London and Sydney, 1893, 
and in Marcel Emerit, Madame Corm et NapoUon 111, Paris, 1937. 

Gustave Courbet, 


lam much indebted fco a recent biography of Courbetfor the details of 
the artist's life. It is an excellent book: Gersde Mack, Gustave Courbet, 
New York, Alfred H. Knopf, Inc., 1951. A second work which con- 
tains good materials has been edited by George Boas, Courbet and 
the Naturalistic Movement, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press, 1938. 
Notice in particular the Introduction by Boas and die following three 
chapters: Eleanor Patterson Spencer, "The Academic Point of View 
in the Second Empire"; Albert Schinz, "Realism in Literature"; and 
Ruth Cherniss, "The Anti-Naturalists." 

For further ideas on Realism, see Jacques Barzun, Berlioz and 
the Romantic Century, 2 vols., Boston, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1950. 

312 Bibliographies 

The chapter entitled "Interchapter: The Century of Romanticism," 
is the appropriate section. Then there is the fine volume by Robert 
C. Binkley, Realism and Nationalism, 1852-2871, New York, Harper 
& Brothers, 1935. The opening chapter on science and technology 
is ably done. And every student of Realism must see the new book by 
Francis Steegmuller, The Selected Letters of Gustave Flaubert, Lon- 
don, Hamish Hamilton, Ltd., 1954. 

Maxime Du Camp is always a noteworthy source on the Second 
Empire. Two works in particular apply here: Literary Recollections, 
2 vols., London and Sydney, 1893; and Souvenirs d'un demi-sicle, 
2 vols., Paris, 1949. Another book, which contains brief sketches and 
significant remarks by artists, has been edited by Robert Goldwater 
and Marco Treves, Artists on An from the XIV to the XX Century, 
New York, Pantheon Books, Inc., 1945. 

Further reading on Proudhon can be found in Edward H. Carr, 
Studies in Revolution, London, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1950, while for 
Viollet-le-Duc, see Paul Gout, Viollet-le-Duc (1814^1879), Paris, 1914. 
The latter work is actually Supplement III of the Revue de Part 

Emile Ollivier 


The best recent biography of Ollivier is Pierre Saint Marc, Emile 
Ollivier (ztejr-/^), Paris, 1950. He has drawn heavily on several 
good sources: Emile Ollivier, UEmpire liberal, Etudes, rScits, souvenirs, 
17 vols., Paris, 1895-1915; Marie Th&rese Ollivier, Emile Ollivier: 
Sa jeunesse, d'aprds son journal et sa correspondance, Paris, 1918; 
and Pierre de la Gorce, Histoire du Second Empire, 7 vols,, Paris, 

Volume VI of La Gorce is excellent for the Government of January 
2 and for the coming of the War of 1870. Two other general works 
provide good background: Robert C. BinHey, Realism and National- 
ism, 1852-1871, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1935; and Hauser, 


Maurain, Benaerts, and L'Hufflier, Du lib&ralisme a FimpMaKsme, 
1860-1878 (VoL XVII of Peuples et civilisations), Paris, 1952. 

More specialized works which contain important material on the 
origins of the War of 1870 are Lynn M. Case, French Opinion on 
War and Diplomacy During the Second Empire, Philadelphia, Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania Press, 1953; Albert Sorel, Histoire diplomatique 
de la Guerre iranco-allemande de i8jo, Paris, 1875; Robert H. Lord, 
The Origins of the War of 1870, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Uni- 
versity Press, 1924- an excellent book which suggests that King Wil- 
liam was more conscious of Bismarck's intrigues than is generally 
held; and Laing G. Cowan, France and the Saar, 1680-1948, New 
York, Columbia University Press, 1950, which maintains the doubtful 
thesis that the War of 1870 was caused more by the Rhenish problem 
than by the Hohenzollera candidacy. 

J. Monteilhet, Les Institutions militaires de la France, 1814-1932, 
Paris, 1932, is a good survey, and Victor Duruy, Notes et souvenirs, 
2 vols., Paris, 1901, contains a number of observations about the failure 
to reform the military establishment as well as about the Empress's 
influence on the declaration of war. Du Camp's remarks about the 
defeat are taken from Literary Recollections, ^ vols., London and 
Sydney, 1893. 


Academic de Medicine, 178 
Academic des Beaux-Arts, 245-248, 

Academic des Inscriptions et Belles- 

Lettres, 245 

Academic des Sciences, 245 
Academic des Sciences, Morales et 

Politicoes, 245 
Academic fran$aise, 126, 245, 297- 

298; opposition to Second Empire, 

82-84, 93, 283 

Advisory Commission, 78-79 
Agoult, Marie de Flavigny, Comtesse 

d 1 , called Daniel Stern, (1805- 

1876), 264 
Alexander II, Emperor of Russia, 

(1818-1881), no 
Alton-She, Edmond de Lign&res, 

Viscomte de, (1810-1874), 43 
Anthrax, sheep, 179-181 
AntoneUi, Jacques, Cardinal, (1806- 

1876), 86 
Army, professional system, 219, 287- 

Articles organiques, (1802), 81 

Bacciochi, Felix, (1803-1866), 45 
Badinguet, (Napoleon IE), 9 
Baroche, Pierre-Jules, (1802-1870), 

224, 295 

Barthez, Dr. E., (1811-1891), 226 
Bary, Ajiton de, (1831-1888), 173 
Baudelaire, Charles, (1821-1867), 54, 

123, 132, 232-233 
Beauharnais Hortense de, Queen of 

Holland, (1783-1837), 2, 3, 41 
Belgium, proposed annexation to 

France, 286 
Benedetti, Vincent, Comte, (1817- 

1900), 285-286, 291-293 

Bergson, Henri, (1859-1941), 298 
Berlioz, Hector, (1803-1869), 107- 

108, 233-234 
Bernard, Claude, (1813-1878), 168, 

Berryer, P.-A., (1790-1868), 33, 83, 

155, 263-264 
Biarritz, 154 

Biogenesis, 167-169, 173, 177, 181-182 
Biot, Jean-Baptiste, (1774-1862), 166- 

Bismarck, Otto E. L., Prince von, 

(1815-1898), 284-294 
Blanc, Louis, (1812-1882), n 
Bois de Boulogne, its development, 


Bonaparte, Eugene-Louis-Jean- 
Joseph, Prince Imperial, (1856- 
1879), baptism, 25 

Bonaparte, Jerome, King of West- 
phalia, (1784-1860), 3, 50 
Bonaparte, Louis, King of Holland, 

(1778-1846), 2-3 
Bonaparte, MathUde, (1820-1905), 

135-138, 145-146, 246, 249 
Bonaparte, Napoleon, called Jerome- 
Napoleon and Plonplon, (1822- 
1891), 28-29, 50, 135-136, i45- I 4 < 5 
196, 212, 263, 271, 284 
Bonaparte, Pierre-Napoleon, (1815- 

1881), 281-282 

Bonheur, Rosa, (1822-1899), 238 
Boulogne, 7-8 
Broglie, Victor, Due de, (1785- 

1870), 83-84, 280 
Bruyas, Alfred, 238, 239, 241 
Buchon, Max, (1818-1869), 231, 233 
Buffet, Louis-Joseph, (1818-1898), 

280, 283 

Billow, Hans G. von, (1830-1894), 

3 i6 

Cancan, origins of, 102 

Carnot, Hippolyte, (1801-1888), 265, 

Castagnary, J.-A^ (1830-1888), 243, 


Castelfidardo, Battle of, (1860), 27 
Casriglione, Francesca Verasis, Count 

of, 141-144, 155-157 
Castiglione, Virginia Oldomi, Coun- 
tess of, (ca. 1837-1899), 139-160 
Catholic Interests in the Nineteenth 

Century , (1852), 81 
Causeries du Lundi, 128 
Cavaignac, Gne*ral Louis-Eugene, 

(1802-1857), 12, 47, 75, 193, 262, 

Cavour, Camille Benso, Count of, 

(1810-1861), 142-143, 149 
Chamberland, C.-E M (1851-1908), 

Champfleury (Jules Husson), (1821- 

1889), *3* 241-242 
Chantilly, 60 
Chateaubriand, Fran$ois-Ren6, Vi- 

comte de, (1768-1848), 119-120, 

Chevalier, Michel, (1806-1879), 25, 


Chicken cholera, 178-179 
Chinese Expedition, 86-87 
Chislehurst, 36 
Chopin, Fre"d6ric F., (1810-1849), 

Civil list, 19 

Clarendon, G. W. F. V., Earl of, 

(1800-1870), 23-24 
Coalitions Law, (1864), 269 
Cobden, Richard, (1804-1865), 25 
Cocodes, lesy in 
Code Napoleon, 81 
College de France, 222 
Col-Puygelier, Captain, 7 
Commune of Pans, 254-255 
Compiegne, 148-149 
Comte, Auguste, (1798-1857), 185 
Concordat of 1516, 68 
Concordat of 1801, 69 
Confederation of the Rhine, 14 
Congregations, Teaching, 207 


Congress of Paris, (1856), 22, 147-148 

Convention of September 15, 1864, 

The Convention of September 15 
and the Encyclical of December 
8, 1864, (Dupanloup), 90-91 

Cornu, Hortense, (1809-1875), 223 

Corps Itgislatif, 79-80 

Council of State, 79 

Coup d'frat of 1851, 45-48, 77-78, 
194, 226, 263; and the Orleans con- 
fiscations, 15 

Courbet, Gustave, (1819-1877), 229- 

Cousin-Montauban, C. G. M. A. A., 
Comte de Palikao, (1796-1878), 

Cowley, Lord Henry R. C, (1804- 
1884), 25 

Crimean War, 20, 81 

Dandys, les, 100 

Darimon, L.-A., (1819-1902), 265, 

Daru, Napoleon, Comte, (1807- 

1890), 279-280, 283, 287 
Daudet, Alphonse, (1840-1897), 61, 


Deauville, 60-61 

Decree of January 19, 1867, 2 73-*74 
Decree of July 12, 1869, 276 
Decree of November 24, 1860, 54, 

de Goncourt, Edmond (1822-1806) 

and Jules (1830-1870), 137 
de Maistre, Count Joseph, (1753- 

1821), 69 
Demidov, Anatole, Due de San- 

Donato and Prince, (1813-1870), 

in, 145 

Doudan, Xim^nes, (1800-1872), 280 
Drouyn de Lhuys, Edouard, 1805- 

1881), 29, 89, 285 
Dubois, Paul-Frangois, (1793-1874), 

119, 122 
Du Camp, Maxime, (1822-1894), 

H2, 197, 205, 251, 295 
Dumas, Jean-Baptiste, (1800-1884), 

170, 173 


Dupanloup, F.-A.-P., (1802-1878), 

76, 80, 83, 89-91, 2 1 1-2 1 2, 220-221 

Dupin, Jacques, called the Elder, 

(1783-1865), 82 
Duruy, Victor, (1811-1894), 187- 

227; 67, 91, 170-172, 174-176, 266 

Ecole Centrale, 222 

Ecole d' Architecture, 222 

Ecole des Beaux- Arts, 222, 245-249, 

Ecole des Chartes, 222 

Ecole des Hautes Etudes, 172, 223- 


Ecole des Mines, 222 
Ecole Normale Speciale, 217 
Ecole Normale Supe'rieure, 217, 222 
Ecole Polytechnique, 199, 222 
Education, adult, 217-218; compul- 
sory, 212-214; of girls, 213-214, 
220-221, 227; physical, 219; primary, 
76-77, 189, 205-210, 212-214, 220, 
225; secondary, 189, 205-206, 215- 
217, 220, 221, 225; university, 189, 
206, 222-223, 225-226 
Eglinton Tournament, (1839), 6 
Elections, of 1857, 53, 84; of 1863, 30, 
32-34, 57-58, 88-89, *<*8; of 1869, 
92, 220, 275-276 
Ems Dispatch, 293 
Endymio?i 9 (Disraeli), 6 
Enfantin, Prosper, (1796-1864), 263 
Estancelin, L.-C.-A., (1823-1906), 159 
Eugenie de Monti j o, Empress, 
(1826-1920), 34-35, 56, 144-146, 247, 
271-273, 280, 291-292, 294-296 
Exposition of 1855, 235-236 

Falloux, Fr6ddric-Alfred-Pierre, 
Comte de, (1811-1886), 76, 83-84, 
193, 225 

Falloux Law, (1850), 76-77, 207, 214, 

Favre, Jules, (1809-1880), 29, 211, 
265, 297 

Ferry, Jules, (1832-1893), 267 

Fesch, Joseph, Cardinal and Arch- 
bishop of Lyon, (1763-1839), 41 

Flahaut de la Billarderie, General 
Comte de, (1785-1870), 40-42, 44 


Flandrin, Hippolyte, (1809-1864), 

Flaubert, Gustave, (1821-1880), 54, 
130-131, 236 

Fleztrs du Mai, 132 

Flotow, Friedrich, Count von, 
(1812-1883), 99 

Forcade de la Roquette, J.-L.-V.-A*, 
(1820-1874), 277-278 

Fortoui, H.-N.-H., (1811-1856), 195 

Fould, Achille, (1800-1867), 213, 241 

Franco-Prussian War, 294-295 

Frederick William IV, King of Prus- 
sia, (1795-1861), 13-14 

Freethinkers, International Society 
of, 215 

Gabriac, J.-J.-P.-M.-F. de Cadoine, 

Comte de, (1830-1903), 56 
Gallican Church, 68-70, 95 
Gambetta, L6on, (1838-1882), 267 
Garibaldi, Giuseppe, (1807-1882), 88, 

91, 220 
Gamier-Pages, L.-A., (1803-1878), 

Gautier, Thophile, (1811-1872), 

241, 248-249 
General Security Law of 1858, 25, 

265, 282 

Germ theory of disease, 173, 178-184 
Girardin, Emile de, (1806-1881), 280 
Glais-Bizoin, A.-O., (1800-1877), 88 
Good Friday Dinner, (1868), 136 
Gorchakov, A.-M., (1798-1883), 239 
Goudchaux, Michel, (1797-1862), 

Gramont, Antoine, Prince de Bi- 

dache, Due de Guiche et de, 
(1819-1880), 284, 289-294 
Grand-Duchess of Gerolstein, 109- 

Gregory XVI, Mauro Capellari, 

(1765-1846), 71-73 
Guizot, F.-P.-G., (1787-1874), 208, 


Hal6vy, Fromental, (1799-1862), 98 
Hal6vy, Ludovic, (1834-1908), 61- 
62, 103-104 


Ham, Fortress of, 8-9 
Haussmann, Baron Georges-Eugene, 

(1809-1891), 50, 101, 224, 262-263, 


Hernani, (Hugo), 121 
Herve. See Ronge\ F. 
Heterogenesis, 168-169, 181-182 
History of Julius Caesar (Napoleon 

HI), 135, 196-197, 201-203 
Hohenzollern candidacy, 289-293 
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Leopold, 

Prince von, (1835-1905), 289-291 
H6tel Drouot, 245 
Houssaye, Arsene, (1815-1896), 101- 

Hugo, Victor-Marie, (1802-1885), 

119-122, 134-135 
Hydrophobia, 182-184 

Idees napoUomejmes, (1839), 6 
Ideville, H.-A.- Le Lorgne, Comte 

d', (1830-1887), 150-151 
Independents, 33, 272 
Industrial Revolution, and the 

Church, 74-75 
Ingres, J.-A.-D., (1780-1867), 237, 

r 23 - 8 ' 2 t 7 T, 

Institut de France, 245 

Institut Pasteur, 184 

Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, 

(1830-1893), in, 157, 296 
Italy, unification of, 26-30, 85-88, 

142-143, 149-150, 266, 285 

Janin, Jules-G., (1804-1874), 105 
Jecker, J.-B., (1810-1871), 55-56 
Jockey-Club, 43, 107, 264 
Joly, Nicholas, (1812-1885), l &9 
Juarez, Benito, (1806-1872), 56 
July Monarchy, (1830-1848), its 

anticlericalism, 69-70 
June Days, (1848), 12 

Kersausie, Joachim-Guillard de, 
(1798-1874), 2 

La Belle HSlene, 108-109 
Labor legislation, 268-269 


Lachaud, C.-A., (1818-1882), 257 
Lacordaire, J.-B.-Henri, Father, 

(1802-1861), 70, 83 
La Fleche, Prytan6e Militaire de, 

La Gueronniere, Dubreuil-Helion, 

Vicomte de, (1816-1875), 28 
Lamartine, A.-M.-L. de Prat de, 

(1790-1869), 120 
La Mennais, Felicite Robert de, 

(1782-1854), 60-73, 75, 124 
Lamoriciere, General Juchault de, 

(1806-1865), 47 87-88 
La Tour d'Auvergne, H.-G.-B.-A., 

Prince de, (1823-1871), 150 
UAvemr, 70-71 
La Vie Parisieime, 109 
Law of 1854, rectoral districts, 81 
Le Boeuf, Edmond, Mare"chal de 

France, (1809-1888), 279, 292, 294- 


Lecocq, Charles, (1832-1918), 113 
Le CorrespoTidant, 84, 89 
Ledru-Rollin, A.-A., (1807-1874), 12, 


Le Qlobe, 119-122 
Le Hon, Comtesse Charles, 43-44, 51, 

5 2 "53 

Le Nabab, (Daudet), 64 
Lesseps, F.-M., Vicomte de, (1805- 

1894), 157 

Lettres de Londres> (1840), 6 
Liberal Catholicism, 68-70, 74, 92, 94 
Life of Jesus, 54, 132 
Lister, Sir Joseph, (1827-1912), 178, 


Liszt, Franz, (1811-1886), 264 
Literary Portraits, 128 
Livry, Emma (Emma Emarot), 

(1842-1862), 106 
Longchamp, 60 
Lorencez, Latrille, G6ne*ral Comte 

de, (1814-1892), 57 
Lorient, Ecole des Fusiliers de 

Marine de, 200-201 
Louis-Philippe I, King of the French, 

(1773-1850), 9-10 
UUwvers, 77-78, 84, 86, 95, 194-195, 



Luxemburg, proposed purchase of, 

Mac6, Jean, (1815-1894), 215 
MacMahon, M.-E.-P.-M., Comte de, 

Due de Magenta, Marechal de 

France, (1808-1893), 257 
Madame B ovary, 130-131 
Masny dinners, 137 
Mafakov, Due de. See Pelissier 
Malines Congress, 89 
Malmesbury, James H. Harris, 3rd 

Earl of, (1807-1889), 19 
Manuel d'Artttlerie, (1834), 4 
Maupas, C.-E. de, (1818-1888), tfi 
Maximilien, Emperor of Mexico, 

Archduke of Austria, (1832-1867), 

Meissonier, J.-L.-E., ( 1 8 1 5-1 89 1 ) , 


Mentana, Battle of, (1867), 91 
M6rimee, Prosper, (1803-1870), 120, 

123, 247, 248 
Merode, F.-X.-G.-de, (1820-1874), 

, 87 '- 95 

Mexico, intervention into, 55-57* 272 

Meyerbeer, Giacomo, (1791-1864), 

Milne-Edwards, Henri, (1800-1885), 

Ministry of January 2, 1870, 279, 


Mirari Vos, (1832), 72, 89 
Mocquard, Jean-Constant, (? - 

1864), 4<* 203-204 
Montalembert, Comte Charles F.-R. 

de, (1810-1870), 65-95, 225, 280, 


Moraine, Roger de, i, 139, 229 
Morny, Charles-Auguste, Due de, 

(1811-1865), 39-64; 31, 78-79, 102, 

Munk, Salomon, (1803-1867), 211 

Napoleon I, Napoleon Bonaparte, 

(1769-1821), 81, 189 
Napoleon II, Franois-Charles- 

Joseph Bonaparte, "the King of 

Rome," (1811-1832), 1 8 


Napoleon IE, Charles-Louis-Napo- 
leon Bonaparte, (1808-1873), ori- 
gins, 3; Manuel d'Artillerie, 4; 
Strasbourg attempt, 4-5; Boulogne 
attempt, 7-8; at Ham, 8-9; Revolu- 
tion of 1848, 10-12, 75; 1852 tour, 
16-17; recognition by Russia, 18- 
X 9 49;50> Crimean War, 20; 
Romanian Question, 22-23; Orsini 
attempt, 24-25; Treaty of 1860, 26; 
Roman Question, 26-30, 85-88, 90- 
92; dissatisfaction with elections of 
1863, 33-34; meets Morny, 44; 
elected President of Second Re- 
public, 45; coup d*&at of 1851, 45- 
48; marriage in 1853, 49; snubbed 
by Nicholas I, 49-50; Anglo- 
Franco-Russian entente, 51; lib- 
erty* 53-55* 9 2 -93 208-209, 219-220, 
265-284; Polish nationalism, 54-55; 
Mexico, 56-57; Moray's death, 64; 
Montalembert, 77-80, 85; Academic 
frangaise, 83-84; Catholic parties, 
84; the arts, 135, 238, 245, 247; 
Countess of Castiglione, 148-150; 
science, 169-172; silkworm epi- 
demic, 174, 176; public education, 
207-210, 219-220; Pius DC, 212; Du- 
ruy*s opinion of, 226-227; the out- 
break of War of 1870, 293-294 

Napoleonic Legend, 13, 17, 143, 195, 
202, 208-209, 2( 56 

National Workshops, 11-12, 261 

Nicaragua Canal, 56 

Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia, 
(1796-1855), 18 

Nieuwerkerke, Alfred-Emilien, 
Comte de, (1811-1892), 15-16, 145, 
152, 238-239, 245-249 

Nigra, Constantin, Comte, (1827- 
1907)1 89 

Noir, Yvan Salmon, called Victor, 
(1848-1870), 281 

Observatory, municipal meteorologi- 
cal, 224 

Offenbach, Jacques, (1819-1880), 62, 

Ogresses, 111-112 


Olliffe, Sir Joseph, 59 

Ollivier, Demosthene, (1799-1884), 

260, 262-163 
Ollivier, Emile, (1825-1913), 93, 215, 

On tbe Object and the Permanent 

Use of the Pyramids of Egypt and 

Nubia Against the Sandy Inroads 

of the Desert, (1845), 8 
Orleans confiscations, (1852), 15, 79 
Orpheus in Hades, 105-106 
Orsini, Felice, (1819-1858), 24-25, 


Palikao. See Cousin-Montauban 
Palmeiston, Henry S. Temple, Vis- 
count, (1784-1865), 19-20 
Papal Infallibility, 94-95 
Partant pour la Syrie, 41 
Pasteur, Louis, (1822-1895), 163-186 
Pasteurization, 167-170, 177 
Pdlissier, A.-J.-J., Due de Malakov 

and Mar6chal de France, (1794- 

1864), 25 
Pensions, 218-219 
Pereire, Jacob-Emile (1800-1875) 

and Isaac (1806-1880), 263 
Persigny, J.-G.-V. Fialin, Due de, 

(1808-1872), 1-37, 48* 82, 154, 268, 

285, 295 
Picard, Ernest, (1821-1877), 263, 265, 

Pie, Bishop of Poitiers and Cardinal, 

(1815-1880), 28 
Pius DC, Mastai Ferretti, (1792-1878), 

27-28, 74-76, 85-88, 90-91, 94^)5, 


Pius IX and France in 184$ and in 

i8f9, (Montalembert), 86 
Plebiscite of May 8, 1870, 283-284 
Polish Question, 54-55, 73, 212 
Port-Royal, 125-126 
Prague, Treaty of, 1866, 285-286 
Press, censorship of, 32-33, 266, 272- 

274, 282 

Prince Imperial, Society of, 31 
Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph, (1800- 

1865), 233, 249-251 
Prussia, 13-14, 36, 284-294 


Randon, J.-L.-C-A., Marechal 

Comte, (1795-1871), 196-198, 28 
Raspail, F.-V., (1794-1878), 12 
Realism, 129-131, 234-237, 241, 24: 
Renan, Ernest, (1823-1892), 54, 7 

I3* 138, 2 10-2 1 1 

Republican Opposition, 264-265, 26 


Revolution of 1830, 2, 42, 67-68 
Revolution of 1848, 10-12, 74 
Rhineland, 14, 285-287 
Richard, M.-L., (1832-1888), 253 
Rigault de Genouilly, Charles, 

(1807-1873), 279 
Rochefort, Victor-Henri, Marqi 

de Rochefort-Lucay, (1830-191: 

63, 109, 112, 281-282, 295 
Roman Question, 26-30, 76, 85-1 

197-198, 220 

Romanian Question, 22-23 
Romanticism, 110-121, 234-237 
Ronge, Florimond, called Her 

(1825-1892), 102-103, "3 
Roqueplan, Nestor, (1804-1870), r 
Rossini, Gioacchino, (1792-186!^ 

Rothschild, James de, (1792-1861 

Rouher, Eugene, (1814-1885), 34, 

91, 172, 224, 271-277, 295-296 . 
Rouland, Gustave, (1806-1878), i< 

199, 201, 204 
Roux, P.-P.-E., (1853-1933), 181 

Sadowa, Batde of, (1866), 272, 2! 
Saint-Arnaud, Leroy de, Marec! 

de France, (1801-18^4), 4^ 
Saint-Cyr, LTEcole Speciale Milita 

de, 198, 222 

Saint-Remy, M. de, (Morny), 61 
Saint-Saens, Camille, (1835-192 


Saint-Simonianism, 124-125, 210 
Saint Vincent de Paul, Society 

30-3 J 
Sainte-Beuve, Charles-Augustin, 

(i8o4-!869), 117-138, 175, 184, 2 



ainte-daire-Deville, Henri, (1818- 

1881), 171, 173 
daw&nbdy 131 

aligny, Pierre Dubois de, 56 
alon des Refuses, 245 
ato Public, (1848), 232 
alvandy, N.-A., Comte de, (1795- 

1856), 190 

md, George, (1803-1876), 123 
Stfdioia. See Italy 
?hneider, Hortense, (1838-1920), 


shneider, J.-Eugene, (1805-1875), 

210, 274 

phwarzenberg, Prince Felix, (1800- 

1852), 13 
fcience, facilities for research, 170- 

172, 223-224, 235, 236 
scond, Alb6ric, (1816-1887), 63 
idillot, Charles-E., (1804-1883), 180 
snate, 79, 225, 277, 282-283 
rvmour, Lord Henry, called Mi- 
lord I'Arsouille, (1805-1859), 101, 


Ikworm epidemic, 173-176 

Uy, Lea, no 

nion, Jules, (1814-1896), 211, 254, 


hgufori Nos, (1834), 73 

>uza-Botelho, Comtesse de Flahaut, 

then Marquise de, (1761-1836), 41- 

rasbourg, 4-5 

tllabus of errors, 90-91, 212 

man Expedition, 86 

taine, Hippoljrte-Adolphe, (1828- 
1893), 132, 211, 249 
Wes of Hoffmann, 114-115 
alleyrand-Pdrigord, Abb Maurice 
de, (1754-1838), 40 
'amnhauser, first Paris performance, 
107, 264 
autin, Lise, no 
caching League, 215 
biers, Louis-Adolphe, (1797-1877), 
47, 76, 91-92, 272, 284 


Thouvenel, Edouard-Antoine, 

(1818-1866), 29, 112 
Tocqueville, Alexis Qerel de, (1805- 

1859)* 13 
Treaty of 1860, (Cobden-Chevalier), 

26, 54, 266 
Troubetzkoi, Sophie, Duchesse de 

Morny, 52, 58 

Ultramontanism, 69-72 
Universite de France, 189, 205, 221, 

Vailknt, J.-B.-P., Mar&hal de 

France, (1790-1872), 172, 176, 196 
Valles, Jules, (1832-1885), 109 
Vatican Council of 1869-70, 94, 277 
Vaudrey, Colonel, 4 
Veauvoir, Roger de, 101 
Venddme Column, 255, 257-258 
Vdron, Louis-Desire, called Dr., 

(1798-1867), 101 

Veufilot, Louis, (1813-1883), 77-79 
Victor-Emmanuel II, (1820-1878), 


Victoria, Queen, (1819-1901), 23 
Viel-Castel, Horace, Comte de, 

(1802-1864), 16 
Villemessant, Carder de, (1812- 

1879), 63 
Viollet-Le-Duc, E.-E^ (1814-1879), 


Voirol, General, 4 
Volupte, 124 

Wagner, Richard, (1813-1883), 106- 

108, 264 
Walewski, Comte AJexandre, (1810- 

1868), 19, 27-28, 43, 50, 271-275 
Whisder, James A. M., (1834-1903), 

William I, King of Prussia, (1797- 

1888), 291-293 
Wurtz, Charles-Adolphe, (1817- 

1884), 170-171, 222-223